Where Are We
1st edition — by Patrick McNeil — Feb. 7, 2006
The Design Element
Communicating quickly with users on the web is a major challenge. Everyone
has abysmally low attention spans and your chance of striking a cord with
users is quite short. One powerful way to quickly communicate with users
is to establish an interesting environment for the site. By pulling the
user into your world you create a new experience for them. The atmosphere
of this environment can help them understand what the site is about and draw
them further in.
In some ways this is just a chance to be incredibly literal,
but look for ways to make it a unique experience. This article represents
a wide range of styles and techniques, but it is remarkable how they all
accomplish the same task of generating atmosphere for the site.
Creating a virtual version of a physical location is quite a challenge.
It can be tackled in a number of ways, some more literal then others.
Smart usage of photography is a good way to use this technique and avoid
the highly complex 3d renderings shown in some of the samples below. I
find the collage style design very interesting since the site firmly plants
you in a different world, and the technique used to build it matches it
perfectly, very smart indeed.
With so many people spending countless hours sitting at a desk, it is
rather personal to show your desk. Even if it is completely made up! It
tells the user you are not afraid to reveal yourself and how you work.
site for example, her desk of course doesn't look like
this, but you certainly feel as though you are getting in on something
straight from the source, which in this case you are.
From looking at the samples this is perhaps one of the most difficult
versions of this subject to implement. I believe however that you could
approach this style in a simpler way and still get some of the benefits.
Futuristic other worlds have tons of appeal and inspire the dreamer in
all of us. There is no doubt about the progressive and competent nature
of these sites. The impact on the visitor is immediate and powerful. and
the experience is completely unique.
Nothing says more about a site or it's owners then when they emulate a
specific piece of software or interface. Consider the
site. The artist need not say what he does and you know he must be
a photoshop genius. The DOS emulation on
has a different appeal. Slightly
older generations who were adept at working in DOS during the earlier
days of computers and the internet will assume the site owner must be
a bit older and more experienced to find such things nostalgic and appealing.
Standard Layout Branding
At times a typical web layout is needed, but it must be branded in a way
so as to associate it with a more physical location. The samples below
use typical layout techniques but still draw you into a fresh location
through atmosphere and environment.
So, in summary, consider what atmosphere you would like
to create for your site. Is it warm and fuzzy, or dark and scary. Hopefully
this assortment of sites will inspire you to try something new! Just remember
it is all about setting the mood, so consider what would appeal to your target
audience and apply that in a creative and new way.
Genopal (Color pallet creation software)
COLOURlovers (Excellent color pallet collections)
Kuler - pallet builder from Adobe /
best tool I have found for easily creating beautiful color pallets)
Great color browsing resource (Named colors, by hue, etc)
Blender (On MeyerWeb)
Color In Motion
Color Schemer Online v2
Color Schemer Gallery