End visual noise by removing unnecessary style divisions
Rendering visual borders around each component of a website or app does a disservice to user experience. In most cases the styling isn’t needed, or less of it is needed to afford action.
When humans speak, only 7% of their message is conveyed through the content of words. The other 93% is communicated through tonal elements and body language. Visual design is the body language of content. It is the voice and tone of message. Visual noise caused by “boxing” is like an overeager sales person pushing a line of products. You might want what is being sold, but the delivery is overbearing.
Facebook and Google+ make each timeline post a distinct visual card, complete with borders and drop shadows. Is this styling needed?
Arguably, Google Search is better designed than Google+ because the results aren’t “boxed.” However, it is important to note that the use case is different. Google+ is about community discovery, whereas Google Search presents query results. Despite the differences, I think the visual design of Google+ would improve if it were “unboxed.”
As an experiment, I “boxed” Google Search to see if it improved the design. Do the added borders, drop shadows, and background color improve or detract from the layout?
The design of the web has come a long way in the last few years. The “flat design” trend provided a framework for questioning superficial styling. And then Google’s Material Design devised a visual language that employs principles from physical reality to digital interfaces.
Regardless of the trend or framework, it is important to keep pushing and questioning the design of the web. I believe visual design has a larger impact on content comprehension than is currently recognized.
I think the main question designers should ask themselves is, “How much styling is needed?” In my opinion, not much. Unbox the web!
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