December 1st, 2009
We got ourselves into big trouble back in 1996. In our seminal report, Web Site Usability: A Designer’s Guide, we wrote a little sentence that attracted a lot of angry emails from designers everywhere: “Graphic design neither hurts nor helps.”
We’d looked at sites that had made a huge investment in adding graphics to their sites and at sites that were almost all text. We couldn’t see a difference in the usability of either. Therefore, we concluded, graphic design didn’t play a role. Looking back, this wasn’t a shining moment in our analysis.
All that controversy, however, got us thinking. And almost 15 years later, we now know differently. From all the research we’ve conducted since, we can pinpoint many instances when good graphic design has enhanced the users’ experience.
Yet there are still instances where a positive contribution is hard to see. In today’s UIEtips, I talk about what we now know about the three different types of graphics commonly found on sites: navigation graphics, content graphics, and ornamental graphics. I’ll show you which ones help the experience and which ones hurt. Read the article Deciding When Graphics Will Help (and When They Won’t).
If you’re interested in creating great experiences using images and icons, you’ll want to check out our next UIE Virtual Seminar with Patrick Hoffman, happening this Thursday in a web browser near you.
Have you had good success with prioritizing graphics in your designs? What’s worked and what hasn’t? Share your experiences below.Tweet