Web Design – The Mobile Web and Photography

At Rouge Media we are all about ‘Effective Web Design‘, which is far more than making a site look pretty and using the right colours and effects. This means we have to keep up to date with the changing trends on the web, not the least being what people ‘expect to see’ and how they react to different designs and styles.

Psychology has a lot to do with this, as well as what devices people are using to use and view the web, so when we see some interesting debate about how images are used in web design, we just have to read it and see how we should (or should not) amend our website design philosophy.

We came across this interesting post and having had a read, thought we’d share it with you, I would expect that it may come as quite a surprise and will really get your mind going, especially when looking at websites in the future and asking yourself ‘I wonder why they did that on the site?’

An excerpt of the post is shown below:-

More and more we are used to slick mobile websites that focus on functionality above all else, and quite right, too.

Arguably when we visit web entities we have less patience than ever before.

Certain generations are starting to build up some serious hours of learning online, navigating websites, social networking and getting stuffdone. These users are developing an innate understanding of web design, even if subconscious.

What this means is that the online world is fast finding its own feet, its design conventions, when viewed as a channel for interaction and productivity, not just information dissemination. It’s no longer apeing traditional media. Just take a look at Google’s Material Design.

So, I’m going out on a limb to say this means photography is becoming rarer online. Here are some examples of why and where.

Some examples

Government Digital Services – NHS organ donation register

I saw this case study referred to in a briefing by the agency Reading Room, where digital psychology was discussed.

This is a pretty straightforward set of A/B tests, looking at conversion of page visitors (in this case, the tax disc ‘Thank You’ page) to organ donation registrants. How would this conversion change as the page design was tinkered with?

Virgin America’s new website

I reviewed this remarkable new website on the Econsultancy blog.

It wasn’t until afterwards that I realised how light on photography the site is. The only place photos are used is to demonstrate the various standards of cabin.

Elsewhere it’s all logos, icons, avatars, illustrations and even gifs.

It works because the aim of most customers on this website is to perform an action – to book a flight or to check in. It’s not a marketing site. Photography would distract from the sense that the entire site is about efficient information input and no fuss action.

Some thoughts

With increased web usage, in fact increased media consuption overall, people are warier than ever of the out-and-out salesman or the black box.

We like web interactions that ‘feel’ right. We’re less easily tricked by women laughing alone with salad.

Essentially, psychology is still a very important part of digital, but for extended and repeat usage of a service, reliability and fewest hurdles are prioritised. This is why Amazon is so successful. The so called clunks of web design that let the user know they are advancing through a process or have done something correctly.

What it comes down to is the concept of the ‘uncanny valley’. We want non-human entities like websites and virtual assistants to feel familiar in some ways, it makes us like them more. But if they go too far away in imitating a human being, we are creeped out and turned off.

Some caveats and conclusion

Photography is still important, of course. Product images, reassuring pictures of real people when marketing and information is being relayed, where the customer is being educated.

Photography is increasingly being used more as wallpaper, as backdrop to text and the mechanics of a site.

Click the link for the full story on web design and photography (and all the interesting images and graphs).


here at Rouge Media.

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