We don’t always know why we are drawn to an advertisement, or a picture, or a piece of art, but we know we like it. This is starting to change however as more and more research is coming out as to why we like what we like, or hate what we hate (I’m looking at you comic sans).
The Golden Ratio
Why did the original iPod win out over hundreds of competitors? Design. The iPod used what is knows as the golden ratio – a simple mathematical ratio that is found throughout nature, art, and science that unconsciously appeals to us. The golden ratio is present in Mozart’s music, the Greek Parthenon, and what we consider to be attractive human faces. The Golden ratio is essentially a rectangle, around 5 x 8, which is common in the shape of books, televisions, and even credit cards. Apple used this ratio when designing the iPod with this ratio in mind, attractiveness is not as subjective as we think. It turns out we have been studying the golden ratio and why we consider something beautiful since around 490 BC.
Depending on the colors used, different meaning can be conveyed to the viewer. Color psychology is the study of color and how it can determine human behavior. Color has been used as an influencer for consumer behavior with about 62% – 90% of buying decisions based on color.
Last year German researchers found that shades of green can boost creativity and motivation. When you think about it, this makes a bit of sense, we can associate the color green with growth and renewal, like fruit bearing leaves or Spring.
Brands often choose a color that can assist them in creating an image. Think about some of the most iconic logo’s and you can often associate the color with the brand. Blue? Facebook Red? Coca Cola. Choosing colors in your design will often begin the user experience before a word is even read.
When Avatar launched in 2010 I was outraged, not because the movie was terrible, or the effects were sub par. It was because James Cameron chose Papyrus for the subtitles. After spending hundreds of millions of dollars on CG effects, did he suddenly run out of money? the decision to use such an ineffective font at best only detracts from the message. Choosing the correct font and using it consistently can enhance your message.
In the past decade, awareness of fonts and typography has become a much bigger part of the mainstream. Fonts are often a matter of opinion and what one considers “good” can often be thought of as terrible by someone else. The first rule of fonts is consistency, using various fonts with various colors and sizes can make anything look like it was made in MS Word.
The world doesn’t need new fonts just like it doesn’t need new furniture or new clothes. Font adds to the overall design and aesthetic of the design and when used correctly adds professionalism and punctuates the product. Choosing a font can assist in conveying an emotional response. Banks for example tend to choose fonts that portray safety and security, A bold Serif font can be used to convey stability and a sense of security, while a scripted italicized font can be used to convey whimsy and fun, something a bank would rather not be associated.
Serif vs. Sans Serif
There has been a battle raging for decades over Serif (little feet) vs. Sans Serif (no little feet). Both can and should be used in design, but here is some help as to when and where each should be applied.
With overall design, it is not just the colors you choose, the fonts, or even the shape that matter most, crafting a message with good structure starts with your message and the strategy behind it. When you have a strong message, only then can you use solid design principles to produce great content, and if that doesn’t work, use Comic Sans.
Thanks for reading,