Lisbeth Thorlacius Web sites are rapidly becoming the preferred media choice for information search, company In this context it is the aim of this article to introduce a model for analysis of the visual communication in Web design figure 2. . p. Roskilde University Research Portal Logo. Powered by Pure. Thorlacius, Lisbeth Springer Science+Business Media B.V., , p. Visual communication, Web design, Aesthetics, Semiotics Web sites are rapidly becoming the preferred media choice for information search, company presentation. Roman Jakobson’s model of verbal communication and the six basic functions of the designer in analyzing Website communication, the communication theory never will have—an undisputed definition of communication” (Miller, , p. In contrast, the Danish aesthetical theorist Lisbeth Thorlacius ()uses the.

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It visel an irrefutable fact that visual effects contribute to the content in its entirety, and therefore must be considered. The question is not whether we need graphics on the site or not – they are a given. Instead we ought to consider to what degree aesthetic effects in terms of pictures and multi-medial experiences should be included.

And the incorporation of these means of effect should depend more on the target group and genre of the web site in question. In spite of the webistes development of IT-technology and the great amount of attention paid to the functional aspects in web design, the problems of constructing user friendly web sites are far from solved seen from the point of view of the functionalists. One of the most influential spokesmen for function and user friendliness in web design is Jakob, Nielsen who has contributed with some of the most important studies within the field of software development and Human-Computer-Interaction HCI.

The introduction of Flash caused great discussions: Nielsen on the other hand argued that because of the long downloading times Flash disturbed the function and user friendliness in web design. There are several reasons for that. First and foremost one had to learn that using Flash elements on the web site caused too many frustrations because of long downloading times and in some cases even the lack of ability to open up the site.

Instead of providing aesthetic pleasures the use of aesthetics disturbed and irritated the users. This caused messy web sites with blinking Flash elements moving across the screen without arousing any aesthetic experiences in the viewer. This contributed to suppress the enthusiasm for aesthetics in web design. Repeatedly one had to agree with Nielsen that the less graphics on the web site the better. And this has thprlacius along an increasing interest in cheaper solutions such as the implementation of Content Management Systems such as the standard lay out 1 In the book Creating killer web sites David Siegel argues for the aesthetic dimensions of web sites.

These standard layout solutions have consequently brought along more anonymous and austere web sites in terms of their use of aesthetics. Simultaneously a new trend within especially designed web sites has become prevalent which practises hyperminimalistic and functional web sites devoid of any losbeth of superfluous aesthetics.

However, in spite of its extreme simplicity, it still expresses aesthetic qualities. The technical and functional aspects of the web site will be taken for granted. They will just be expected to work.

In for example, Sonyreplaced their Flash-based and multi-medial web site www. This decision to design a more functional and hypermodernistic web site is, among other things, due to lixbeth fact that Sony learned that too many of their users had difficulties downloading their site. There is, in other words, a tendency towards seeking more simplistic, although, aesthetic thoglacius where the function and aesthetics are in relative balance.

In the near future, however, there will be an increasing focus on aesthetics and experiences in web design again. This is especially due to the rapid development of IT-technology.

Web design – Wikipedia

It will no longer be possible to argue against the use of interesting animation and fine-grained pictures through reference to slow internet connections and long downloading times. Very soon llisbeth will be possible to download Flash animations and other aesthetic experiences without delay and with no detrimental effects to the content and functional dimension. The introduction of the broad band has already created new possibilities for experience- The technology will be looked upon as a natural thirlacius for experiences and self-realisation.

According to the graphical web design researcher, Ida Engholm, the debate about function and usability versus aesthetics in web design has similarities with the shift in forms of design, which took place in the post-war consumer boom. Many of the products, which were marketed – from bicycles to electrical appliances – varied only slightly from their original designs. All technical and functional problems had been solved and it was expected that the product ; and made use of the latest version of the basic technology.

Instead, the focus was on “differentiating” the products by means of outer aesthetics and signals with respect to image Engholm, Kommunikaion the functional dimension and usability fall into place, there will be more room for idealistic reflections about the kommujikation between function and aesthetics in web design. Function and aesthetics in relation to the genres of the website So far the focus has been on the production of functional web sites rather than on audience research on the needs, tastes and preferences of the users thotlacius web sites.

And the focus has been on branding the sender instead of on the target groups of web sites and web site users’ actual needs with respect to the content and aesthetics of web sites. In the future, the choice of whether to stress function or aesthetics ought, therefore, to depend on greater knowledge of the target groups and, wdbsites least, the genre or hybrid of genres of the web site in question.


Insufficient attention has been paid to genre in discussions about the relative weighting of function and aesthetics in web sites. I will even dare to claim that aesthetics, if I were forced to choose, are almost more important than the functional aspect with respect to this genre of kommuinkation site.

A model of visual, aesthetic communication focusing on web sites

A functional but aesthetically poor web site for an art gallery will appear untrustworthy and will be detrimental to the image of the gallery – even if the navigational and the functional aspects function optimally.

But Nielsen’s target group does not look up www. The three superior ways of attaching weight to function and aesthetics in terms of web design ought to a greater extent to depend on the genre in question. Function dominates aesthetics the content in an appropriate manner without actually offering great sensuous experiences but from a functionalistic point of view there would, however, be superfluous amounts of aesthetics.

DSB The Danish State Railway has, in my view, succeeded in achieving this balance between aesthetics and function in their web site www.

Facilitating the user’s acquisition of information is the most important dimension for this type of genre, but, at the same time, the web site is aesthetic without the visual techniques interfering with or overshadowing the content. It is, in fact, very important that a web site, which has as its primary aim the provision of information, also offers aesthetic experiences.

This is first of all because the aesthetics can in many ways work to support the content and the navigation, but it is also because the visual representations, when used in the right way, are capable of representing the organisation in a positive way. The layout is dynamic and clear, thus reflecting an organisation that is well-organised and up-to-date.

DSB has put thought into the details, choosing modern fonts, airy pages and many pictures. The web site represents a type of web site, which will proliferate in the future.

Web design

There will continue to be a need for web sites that give priority to the functional dimension and develop the aesthetic dimension only insofar as it supports the functional dimension – for example, within the genre of information sites where the main aim is to provide the user with the information he or she is seeking as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Balance between function and aesthetics Figure 5: However, they will be aesthetically pleasant to look at. Aesthetics dominates function In the future, however, there will be an increasing number of web sites where aesthetics triumphs over function. It is embedded in the development of our society that therewill with great probability be constructed many more web sites which prioritise the experience-oriented aspects. An example of a web site which is full of aesthetic experiences both for adults and children is Nike.

Nike lives up to the philosophy that the good product should be accompanied by aesthetic experiences and stories. Nike has obviously thought in terms of target groups, reflected in the individual links. For example, the link to Nike football.

The navigational structure has clear references to computer games, where the functional dimension is illogical and user-friendliness is not in focus, and this is fully intentional. When navigating on the web site, this target group likes to be confronted with challenges which need to be surmounted. And the primary goal of the nikefootball.

The main aim is to construct a believable brand in relation to the target group of year old boys. Nike’s web site reflects the society within which the youth is deeply rooted, where the lifestyle is characterised by fragmentation, chaos, selfrealisation, great demands for sensuous experiences and challenges involving clear victories.

If we want to buy a pair of shoes on the site, we first have to choose which type of sole we want, then we can choose among a range of colours, freely combining the colours of the shoes if we so desire. We are also given Figure 7: Nike’s aim is that the purchase of a pair of Nike sports shoes should involve an experience, and this aim is apparent when you enter the link to Nike’s range of products, nikeid.

In this respect, Nike is ahead of its time. This is fully in line with the cultural tendencies involving self-realisation and personal expression in society today. Nike is largely a hybrid between several genres: Presentation sites for companies and public institutions, such as banks, ministries, local governmental bodies, educational institutions and advisory boards, will, predominantly, continue to give weight to the functional aspects.