Look & Feel
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How to get your look and feel right

What is Look-and-Feel?

By 'Look' we mean the graphics themselves, by 'Feel' we mean the flow and structure of how the information on your website is presented.

Together, they declare the group or culture you belong and define your position within that group.

Your cultural background, or business arena, will influence your look and feel as you will have a natural tendency to be like everyone else within that culture.

How to define the cultural norm:

  • Gather as many examples of sites where you think you belong and can identify with.
  • Discover the consistencies between these designs and identify the themes.
  • Note the use of colour and white-space.
  • Note the use of technology.

Start with a design based on your cultural norm.

The aspects you can influence within that cultural group will depend on the message you are trying to deliver:

  • Are you modern thinking?

    Use technology a little more sophisticated than the accepted cultural norm.

  • Are you very professional, modern and sophisticated?

    Add contemporary designs to the accepted cultural norm.

  • Are you traditional, established and corporate thinking?

    Add formality to the accepted cultural norm.

Improving the look

Identify the style: build a style guide

Style can be defined as the chosen set of graphic themes when used consistently throughout your site, delivers the desired effect.

Select a range of colours and use them to identify static and active parts of your website.

Select a framing style to separate your information islands. Use of white-space, solid or dashed lines, margins and padding all work together to create a defined style.


Moods are non-specific emotions and can be triggered by the visual appearance of your website due to cultural identification of these moods. This means it is relatively straight forward to create a mood.

For example:

  • Optimistic: blue, white, bright, sparkly – lots of white space
  • Happy: primary colours
  • Calm: pastel colours: rounded edges
  • Corporate: blue, square

Improving the Feel

Identify the navigation: where are you taking them?

The navigability of your website will depend on what features you have made available and how clear you have defined their functionality.

You can improve the 'Feel' by making how you communicate easier. Consider the visitor interaction, the dynamics of the interation and the speed of the interaction. This will help improve the expectations of the visitor.

  • Search

    Where is it and how powerful is it? Most search boxes are placed in the header area. Alternative areas are either above the left vertical menu, or the last item on the top horizontal menu.

    Depending on your website, decide whether the search facility needs options such as category, price, colour to help narrow down the search results.

  • Horizontal menu

    What is its purpose? Most horizontal menus are placed within the header and help you to navigate to functionally different areas of the site, such as 'catalogue', 'helpdesk', 'contact'.

    Depending on your website, decide whether you need a horizontal menu, and if so what are the major areas of your site?

  • Vertical menu

    Are you planning on having a static or dynamic menu? (a dynamic menu will have hidden subcategories for example). How easy is it to use? Are you planning on having icons to represent menu items?

  • Reference box

    Will this contain useful references with links? Will the links always be external links?

  • Image links

    Will every image be a link? Inconsistencies will confuse the visitor.