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The Aesthetics of Classical Website Design

Updated on March 22, 2012

Which one appeals to you?

To discover viewer reactions to site design, Webmasters need a basic aesthetic model that simplify a complex site. These models are often separated into classical aesthetics versus expressive aesthetics. Users bring context, expectations, and intentions with them, and the coverage to which a site’s visual design matches those expectations will robustly influence perceptions of the quality and reliability of information on the sites.

Classical aesthetics

Taking a look at classical aesthetics we could summarize it stresses orderliness and clarity in design, and use known web and print conventions. Research shows that classical aesthetics strongly correlate with perceived functionality. This model is the most successful when users expect an e-commerce or content site to provide large amounts of information in a well-organized way, with a clear visual hierarchy and conventional headers, subheads, captions, and navigation—think newspapers, sophisticated magazines or e-commerce sites. The enjoyment and trust that classical aesthetics generate seems to be centered in the higher and slower reflective level of processing. Classically designed sites also generate positive intuitive reactions as well, and this creates a lasting impression that a site is easy to use.

Expressive aesthetics

Looking now at expressive aesthetics this emphasizes the creativity, imagination, and visual richness of the site design. Think about the kind of site that typically wins design awards from Print or Communication Arts. Expressive designers generate immediate, positive visceral reactions in most viewers. Understanding your audience is particularly crucial in expressive designs: a site design that targets female shoppers will be less effective with a CGA type audience.

Expressive and classical aesthetics seem to correlate equally with the general positive or negative attractiveness of a site. Users expect the aesthetic model to complement the function of the site, for example, and thus text-rich content sites seem to benefit more from the classical aesthetic approach. Well thought out designs contribute strongly to the sense that a site is trustworthy and credible, no matter which aesthetic model they use.You can use these concepts when marketing email lists as well

You can see more information about properly designed websites by clicking the underlined text


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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Useful information. Thanks!