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What can brown do for you?

November 9, 2007

Screenshot of Backpacker's Bazaar from my Flickr collectionI found this site through Design Meltdown, a gallery of design styles. This site is a good example of nice design which gets recognized by a gallery but has some usability issues when you actually use it.

First, You have to go to the top right to a “home” graphic to link back to the home from a secondary page. It took me several seconds to figure out how to get back to the homepage when I got deeper in the site. I would suggest making the site branding into a link back to the homepage which is a common practice.

Second, the polaroid photos in the Flash animation eventually cover up the last parts of the sentences in the welcome message. Not a good practice to cover up text that is conveying a message. A small but important detail to make sure one page element does not overlap another and make it unreadable.

This site serves as a reminder to me that elegant design needs to also be usable and think about the experience of the user. Sites “behave,” they are not just an artistic canvas. I want to be able to create sites that are elegant and provide a good user experience.

Given all that, I do like the visual design of this site. The monochromatic is nice and gives character to what the Web site is promoting so I think it does a good job of visual communication. The photos look even more vibrant because they introduce other colors into this brown palette. I also like the “realness” feel of the site and real world objects such as the photos, tape, paper, and passport.

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