or why it’s called a web”page”
Legibility has always been of utmost importance in the process of visual communication. Billboards, advertisements, flyers. The clearer the message, the better the impact it tends to have on the target audience; the greater the sales.
In the 1990’s, with the emergence and increasing popularity of the internet came attempts to adapt this attention-grabbing visual aesthetic to websites. The effect this had though was to clutter up the real estate of the screen with unnecessary elements that didn’t really add to the effectiveness of communicating the message, but instead distracted and confused the user.
Today, there is a changing trend where the rules of traditional print design are being applied to the web. We see websites that are more typographically driven, with the main design elements being lines, subtle shifts in color and maybe one or two large images. This is similar to print design, where the message is relayed through words and images, and thus legibility of those words and images is of utmost importance.
Some reasons for this shift include changes in user preference, evolution of CSS including the use of sprites and the availability of server-side and browser-side font rendering technologies that allow the use of more and varied fonts.
The emergence and growing popularity of blogs has added to this trend. We as the audience are more interested in what the website is saying as opposed to what it is displaying.
This trend can also be seen with online advertising, where banners and ads have gone from psychedelic aminated gifs of aliens dancing maniacally to more subtle blocks of text and color, similar to ads found in newspapers and magazines.
Some examples of websites that follow this trend of incorporating characteristics of print design in both layout and advertisements are below.