1st edition — by Patrick McNeil — Aug. 8, 2006
The Design Element
The web is a very technical hard edged place, if only because it is a programmers
paradise, an entire world that only exists in a virtual sense. This technical
hard edge can be hard to get away from. This collection of sites has managed
to do just that though. All of the sites below have worked the imagery of
nature into their design, and only a few of the sites actually have anything
to do with nature or the out doors. This means the designers are putting
the element to use for different purposes.
Some of the sites seem to use nature elements as a metaphor. This is clear
site. It might be literal, and a bit obvious, but the fact is they understand
their purpose. They seek to help you build your site and let it grow. Just
the fact that they can express a purpose and plan is powerful. It creates
a sort of purpose and at the same time gives them a less technical appearance.
In fact, this might be the true power of the element, to create an organic
atmosphere. This is fantastic because no one likes confusing technical things,
and seeking out help for you web site can be intimidating. This friendly
organic feel helps to distract from the technical complications and instead
focus on the natural, perhaps people oriented side of the business. Now,
this might seem like reading a lot into a simple image, but it is the most
substantial part of this site and many others like it so we must consider
what it says and how it impacts the visitor.
I separated these sites because they have nature elements that have clearly
been created by Illustrator (or any vector based application), creating a
much more unique stylized feel. After all, anyone can buy some beautiful
stock photos, but it takes major time to create illustrations such as these.
Another mini category of this element is the silhouette. Nothing special,
but it is again a very stylized way of using the element.
And of course this is the rest of the links with an assortment of techniques
for incorporating the style into the site. Notice how tight everything is
in the best samples. It isn't enough to throw a photo of a leaf in your banner,
work it into the site and create a cohesive design.