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Using contrast to set areas of interest

From: Design Aesthetics for Web Design

Video: Using contrast to set areas of interest

The first of the ten principles of a design we'll examine is contrast. If you think about what the word contrast means, comparing two or more things and noticing their differences, you get a rough idea of how it can be used in terms of design to create visual areas of interest. In formal terms, contrast is the juxtaposition of opposing elements by way of using different colors, tones, directions, lines, shapes, et cetera to show emphasis. Creating contrast is a skill that often develops over time.

Using contrast to set areas of interest

The first of the ten principles of a design we'll examine is contrast. If you think about what the word contrast means, comparing two or more things and noticing their differences, you get a rough idea of how it can be used in terms of design to create visual areas of interest. In formal terms, contrast is the juxtaposition of opposing elements by way of using different colors, tones, directions, lines, shapes, et cetera to show emphasis. Creating contrast is a skill that often develops over time.

However, you can jump start your own use of it by paying attention to your site's content, and deciding in advance the relative importance of each element in your design. Which parts should be highlighted? Logo, header, navigation? Banner, side bar, news item. Side bar, featured items, article, search bar, gallery, footer. No two sites are the same. And every client will have specific needs. If you know in advance which areas need contrast, this can help inform and improve your design process.

To help site visitors stay focused on the most important part of a design, the major contrast in a work should always be located at the center of interest, wherever that happens to fall on the page. So, let's take a look at two sites. These days, many designers add contrast to their designs by placing large animated sliders or other giant photographic elements on the homepage. Usually directly below the header and the navigation. By contrast, on e-commerce sites like amazon.com, the main goal is to sell products.

So the shopping cart and the featured item areas will generally have the greatest amount of contrast, usually in size and position compared to the other elements on the page. What other ways can you think of to add contrast to a design. Here are some examples. You can choose opposite colors on the color wheels, such as violet and yellow. You could use different tones or values such as black and white or light and dark. You could play with direction by using both horizontal, vertical and diagonal elements.

You could play with thick and thin lines. You could work with hard and soft edge shapes. You could choose harmonious font pairings like a serif with a sans serif. Pairing textures and patterns with smooth surfaces can often create contrast and set areas of interest. And you can also create a sense of balance by placing a busy area next to an area with lots of white space. Unless you're going for a chaotic and confused look, carefully consider the elements of a design as you construct your web layout.

Too little contrast prevents site visitors from knowing where to look, while too much contrast can really destroy the unity and all but ruin a design. With the right amount of contrast, you can really show visitors exactly where to look by creating specific areas of interest that draw them in and keep them engaged.

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This video is part of

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Design Aesthetics for Web Design

32 video lessons · 14467 viewers

Sue Jenkins
Author

 
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  1. 2m 8s
    1. Welcome
      38s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 30s
  2. 9m 10s
    1. Understanding aesthetics
      4m 41s
    2. Examples from art and design
      4m 29s
  3. 35m 44s
    1. Understanding the elements of design
      1m 47s
    2. Using color to set the site's mood
      5m 50s
    3. Tweaking color values to add contrast
      3m 30s
    4. Using texture to add depth
      4m 53s
    5. Repeating shapes to unify your design
      2m 43s
    6. Structuring your layout with form
      3m 50s
    7. Using space to organize your design
      4m 38s
    8. Setting boundaries with line
      4m 36s
    9. Communicating with the right fonts
      3m 57s
  4. 38m 26s
    1. Understanding the principles of design
      1m 45s
    2. Using contrast to set areas of interest
      3m 8s
    3. Applying font styles to show emphasis
      5m 23s
    4. Aligning objects to achieve balance
      4m 40s
    5. Using hyperlink styles to create a sense of unity
      4m 10s
    6. Applying background patterns to create harmony
      3m 14s
    7. Adding movement with scrolling and animation
      3m 31s
    8. Using border styles to add rhythm and repetition
      2m 57s
    9. Achieving proportion by scaling objects and text
      2m 43s
    10. Simplifying by removing the unnecessary
      3m 21s
    11. Using gradation to create perspective
      3m 34s
  5. 37m 45s
    1. Responsive web: Creating CSS for different devices
      3m 2s
    2. Composition: Using the grid to organize space
      4m 45s
    3. Typography: Choosing and using web fonts
      5m 15s
    4. Color theory: Picking harmonious colors
      4m 16s
    5. Communication: Leading viewers through a design
      6m 30s
    6. Accessibility: Using size and color effectively
      6m 10s
    7. Originality: Stepping out of the box
      7m 47s
  6. 1m 57s
    1. Next steps
      1m 57s

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