Selecting Appropriate Graphics for Web Sites

Selecting Appropriate Graphics for Web Sites

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Selecting Appropriate Graphics for Web Sites


In giving recommendations concerning appropriate images for a splash page of a website to a beginning web developer, it is important for graphics to be relevant to a website, diverse in gender, age, and race, and appropriate in the use of color.

Using Relevant Graphics
I would first suggest that all graphics should be relevant to the subject of the website. If a graphic is not serving any purpose at all, I would suggest not using it because some users may become annoyed at the unneeded use of graphics. This leads me to the two fundamental purposes of graphics which Dr. Palmer discussed in class on Tuesday, February 17, 2004. Along with my course in technical editing, I have learned that graphics have either a motivational or functional purpose. I would explain to the web developer that a graphic should either draw the attention of the user (motivational) or aid in the explanation of the text (functional). After thinking of these two purposes, it would then be appropriate to address the type of graphic and context in which it will be used.

For a splash page of a website, I would recommend using a photograph or clip art graphic that is both visually appealing and defining of the subject of the website. I chose these two types of graphics because of their appropriateness to a universal audience. These types of graphics are usually both visually appealing and interesting. As Susan Hilligoss and Tharon Howard state in Visual Communication: A Writer’s Guide, “Readers take in a document’s visual design and images immediately. We apply lasting memories of images across the documents we encounter. Thus the design affects readers’ first impressions of genre, interest, and importance” (8). The graphic chosen will form the first impression of the reader, therefore, graphics must be chosen with much thought.

Using Diverse Graphics
When choosing graphics consider that websites can be accessed by all ages and races. For this reason, a web developer should consider the appropriateness of graphics and be prepared to accept the consequences if pictures are not appropriate for younger viewers. As was discussed in class, graphics must be diverse in both ethnicity and gender. Graphics must have an even dispersal of both males and females and must not be one-sided to any race. The web designer has to remember that the world is very diverse and not everyone is just like him/herself.

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Using an equal distribution of graphics will help alleviate the problem of offending any users because of noticeable bias in graphics. As Bruce Grierson states in his article “Shock’s Next Wave” featured in Picturing Texts, people in the world today are less likely to be shocked by graphics or text in advertisements. I believe this is apparent because of the new level of freedom in today’s culture, with dress, speech, and television shows becoming more provocative. As it states in the beginning of the article, “The old-school of ad making–establishing the product’s ‘unique selling position’ and carefully building brand loyalty–is dead” (136). I would recommend that a beginning web developer not have the goal of shocking one’s viewers. Instead, I would recommend including interesting photographs or pictures that are unique, yet appropriate to all audiences.

Using Color Appropriate Graphics
Another consideration in the selection of graphics is the display of colors. As stated in Visual Communication: A Writer’s Guide, “Color is powerful and complex. It focuses attention like no other visual feature, and it outweighs other means of grouping. It moves viewers. Color can also distract and overwhelm” (Hilligoss and Howard 17). For this reason, it is important to choose graphics with an appealing combination of colors but not outrageously showy or distracting from the other visual elements of the page. According to a study by the Poynter Institute, the visual element of a page influences where the reader begins to read on the page (17). Color is also an important visual element that will draw the reader’s eye to a particular area. For this reason, the organization of the graphic and text should be considered in-depth so that the reader will understand the most inherent points of the website.

I can apply the use of graphics to splash pages to my current studies as an English major. As we are beginning Project Two for this course, I will be producing a website to display my professional qualifications as a technical writer and editor. It will be important for me to select appropriate clip art and photographs that companies will find useful in their visits my website.

Works Cited

Grierson, Bruce. “Shock’s Next Wave.” In Picturing Texts. Faigley, Lester, Diana George, Anna Palchik, and Cynthia Selfe. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2004. 134-141.

Hilligoss, Susan and Tharon Howard. Visual Communication: A Writer’s Guide. New York: Longman, 2002.
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