Annette Fowler

“CLEAN” is the new black…

Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

Sometime in the last couple of years, “clean” became the new “black” in terms of web site design… I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard the exact same conversation at the beginning of redesign project…

“So, in terms of look and feel of the new site, please tell me what kind of graphical design you are looking for…”

“Well, I’m not sure, but I want it to be CLEAN.”

Don’t get me wrong, this is a perfectly legitimate request, but it requires some further explanation and thought on the client’s part.  To some, “clean” means uncluttered with lots of white/neutral space on the page.  I would qualify these Beacon-designed sites as meeting this criteria:

RF Micro

RF Micro

Cogent Research

Cogent Research

APEX Expert

Apex Analytix

Volvo Bus SCR

volvobusscr

To others, it means having one dominant color on the page (not just white), lots of photography and minimal text.  This is very different from the designs above and could look something like this:

SEBTS

SEBTS

NMEDA

nmeda

AC Furniture

AC Furniture

IBS Billing

IBS Billing

All eight of these designs came with the requirement that the site be “clean”, and as you can see, our accomplished design team satisfied that task in a variety of different ways– through color, texture, graphics, font and photography.  As a project manager, it is definitely my job to figure out what you are looking for in terms of design and I have lots of questions that I ask at a kick-off meeting to clarify this:

  • What words do you feel best describe the website look you want?
  • What kind of design/graphical presence are you looking for?
  • What are some sites you like or dislike when considering their graphical design? What do you like best about these websites?  What do you like least about these websites?
  • Do you have a “branding package” or other marketing standards that we need to be aware of?
  • Are there official branding/identity standards associated with the company logo, official fonts, company color palette, etc. ?
  • Do you have a brand or logo guideline?
  • Does the company have distinct colors?
  • Do you have a photography and/or graphical resources (database, CDs, etc.)?
  • Would it be useful for us to get some current marketing material (i.e. printed brochures, e-newsletters, etc.)?

However, if you want to make the analysis phase of a redesign project LOTS easier, please think about coming with not only an idea in your head of what a “clean” design is, but some specific examples.  The sites don’t even have be your competitors or even relevant to your industry.  A couple of years ago, our client was inspired by the Obama campaign site and we took our cues from that!   Quick bullet points about each design– what you like and what you don’t– is even better.  Nothing makes me happier than a client that walks in the door with a big stack of website print-outs and a hand written list on notebook paper.  Doesn’t have to be fancy, doesn’t have to be organized, but that list helps us so much to crawl inside your head and figure out exactly what “CLEAN” means to you!

Thanks for helping me to help you!