Interface Design

The Screen > Color and Themes

Fancy themes and the use of color has become more and more prevalent in web page design. There are a few DOs and Don'ts to consider when designing your interface. The information provided here is intended to provide simple guidelines to assist you in creating a functional page that adheres to the basics.

Page Themes
The site purpose should dictate characteristics of its theme:
  • Training sites should offer no distractions and have few links that allow a user to leave the site. The focus should be on presenting the material. The theme should be simple and deliver the message.
  • Teaching sites usually have a good strong narrative but make allowances for leaving the site to pursue background information that can enhance the learners experience. The theme should therefore encourage increased knowledge.
  • Continuing education sites should involve text based lists of links that allow a wide range of topics but also make provisions for graphic and well designed illustrations to hold the interest of the user.
Background Graphics   There are many choices one can make as far as web page backgrounds. Solid colors or image files with or without textures are common choices. It is important to remember that the number one concern in choosing a background is readability. A fancy background page can enhance a site or annoy the user and make the text difficult to read. Use caution!
Colors   Do to differences in computer platforms and web browsers, color choice must be given consideration in web site design. As a general rule there are 256 colors that computers recognize on the web. Different computer platforms recognize different colors and only 216 colors on the 256 are common to all platforms. The colors in this grouping are known as web safe colors. Wile this may seem a problem, you can combine web safe colors to make hybrid colors giving you a little more flexibility.
Bandwidth   Remember that everything you want to show to the user must flow from the server to the user. While complex images can enhance the users experience, long download time can quickly aggravate them.
Simplicity   Simplicity will seldom lead you astray. If adding content or graphics to a page will have limited impact on its functionality or clarity.. leave it off!
Rev 20-Sep-2004
John Rivoire
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