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introduction2.1 Setting the tone


Graphic design is about communication. A successful design delivers a message to the viewer that words alone cannot. A good design can set the tone of a web site in the mind of the visitor. One of the most powerful tools a designer can use is colour. A website for a relaxing health spa will use a very different scheme to a website devoted to a thrash metal band, to give two extreme examples.

To get an idea of how different design schemes can change the look and feel of a website, visit the CSS Zen Garden here. This is an interesting demonstration of how design can change the feel of a website because every page contains exactly the same information; it is only the house style that has changed. Some pages are very calm and relaxing, others very loud and brash. The colours used, the font styles and the graphics can give a very different impression. Here are two examples of contrasting moods, click on each image to see the whole page:

CSS Example 1 CSS example 2

Colours can convey different symbolism depending on context. Traditionally in Western cultures, pink is often associated with girls and blue with boys (this is a relatively recent thing, before about 1940 pink was considered a boy's colour and blue was a girl's colour!)

Green may make us think of nature in the West, though in other cultures the meaning may change. Orange is a fun colour. Brown is an earthy colour. Red is linked with danger. There are more colour activities in the Digital Imaging unit.

A combination of colour, font, layout and graphics helps set up a house style for the website. All the pages within the site should follow the same style. This style should be planned carefully before creating the pages, always keeping in mind the purpose and audience of the site.

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