This is a guest post by Steve Daniels
When you’re next round your Grandma’s house, take a look around at the décor on display. No doubt when you’re there it’s going to ‘feel’ very Grandma-ish and you’ll probably find it’s not the most stylish or modern looking place, but it might be hard to initially put your finger on what it is that’s dating it. A Grandma you see can take the most modern home with the most modern furniture and layout and somehow still manage to make it look dated and old fashioned, so the question is… how??
The answer is simple – it’s their choice of colours and patterns. In fact there’s even a pattern named after them – ‘Granny pattern’. As soon as you see those pastel colours and those washed out flower patterns on beige backgrounds you know you’re in an old lady’s home, and as soon as you walk into a room adorned with burgundy and browns you’ll know it’s an old man’s place.
So the question is, how might colours and patterns be affecting your website? Are you using a ‘granny’ pattern of the web? Or do your colours suggest futurism and modern design? Let’s find out…
‘Granny Pattern of the Web’
Of course using the ‘granny pattern of the web’ is something you don’t want to be doing and something that would instantly date your site, so what do you need to avoid? Well just like your Grandma’s walls you should be trying to steer clear of any kind of pattern that’s too ‘busy’. Rather than having pages filled with flowers and squiggles or rocks, you should be looking for background images that are abstract, that don’t repeat and that are more subtle. When the web first started lots of people were using repeating backgrounds made up of stones or computer chips, but this has now become synonymous with those early sites and 56k modems that can’t render large images speedily.
Likewise being minimalistic where possible is something that has become trendy and popular and this is true of both interior designs and web design. Large empty spaces make your layouts look larger, while at the same time avoiding a kind of ‘options paralysis’ that happens when people don’t know where to look because there’s too much information.
You also need to think about which colours themselves are ‘in’ when it comes to technology and here there are a number of things to consider. White at the moment for instance is very ‘in’ with this being a great minimalistic option, as are block colours that offer a stark contrast against such a background. For a while a year or two ago a lot of sites were white, orange and blue and this was a very trendy colour scheme to opt for, but now they tend to use more whites mixed with primary colours. Black and white with splashes of red is particularly fashionable for clothing, so you can mimic this to create a very trendy look for your site potentially.
Blues meanwhile are very safe and have largely been popular throughout time – particularly for corporate sites. Avoid a strictly navy and white colour scheme though as this has been done too often – use lots of shades of blue to make your site look more modern and to echo imaginary interfaces such as those seen in Minority Report. Note though that any ‘vision of the future’ is going to be particularly highly susceptible to going out of date quickly. While Minority Report may look futuristic still now, in a few years this will change and we’ll realise that our predictions of the future were outdated. Just as Dr Evil’s attempts to dress Austin Powers in a futuristic silver-jumpsuit ends up coming off as kitsch, you need to make sure you update your concept of futurism regularly unless you want to end up looking ‘retro futuristic’ – and rather ironic as a result.
While the look of the web is still very ‘crisp’ and minimalist – something that the ‘Metro look’ takes even further – I do see an end to this trend and something else stepping in – block ‘neon’ colours that use transparencies. It looks high tech, it again takes advantage of modern technology, and it has a very ‘Tokyo’ feel to it. Check out the design of apps like ‘Chameleon Launcher’ and see if you can integrate that kind of colour scheme into your site for something that’s one step ahead of the curve.
Just avoid granny patterns…
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