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"Illegal use of colors... on the offense..."

Someone here at work earlier asked me about my opinions on a website design. While there wasn’t anything “wrong” per se, there was plenty wrong. Confused? Good, I thought you’d be.

The page seemed fine from a design structure standpoint. There were a few designy things that I never would have touched, like icky looking tabs and the placement of some things… lines around the side navigation when it’s already broken off on the page by a background color… But the information on the page looked, in a completely black and white world, functional. But that’s where one side of it ends.

It’s the ever popular Form vs. Function argument… However, in a world where form is usually sacrificed in the name of function, I like to point out that people can make things that fit both bills. There are plenty of examples.

iPod, Mac mini, G5 Tower, iMac… Apple is very good at getting the Form AND Function thing going. IKEA is another great example… I think it all comes down to one word.


Simplicity, designed correctly, can overcome any potential issue in almost any arena.

The problem that the aforementioned web design has is that it’s using way too many colors and not in a good combination to boot. It’s got this bright blue header with way too much info, blue tabs underneath, then it has a big gray bar through the middle. In the content area we have a nasty electric green side navigation area, a white text area and then this nasty 1970s light and dark avocado thing going on… Nasty.

The biggest problem it has is that it’s way cluttered… and then you toss all those colors on top and you have a horrible mess.

Why? Now I’m going to rail on a specific color here, just, well, because I can. And if you really like this color, please, there’s no real offense intended toward anyone that really, really loves this color. It’s more about the horrible uses that I’ve encountered over the years. These are just my observations in the 15 years i’ve been designing things…

Green. I firmly maintain that the color green shouldn’t be used for anything but grass and trees (and things that come from them). There are very few things in this world that look good in the color green. If things were really intended to be green, the Big Guy Upstairs would have made them green to begin with. I think my intense loathing of the color green came when I was working at UVSC. A year or two after I started working there, they changed the name of the school and the school’s colors. In true democratic fashion, the administration said that the students would be the ones to vote on which colors the school should adopt, and when they chose this cool dark maroon and gold combination, the administration promptly announced that olive drab and bleck gold were the colors. For the design geeks here, that’s Pantone 3435 and 109. Uncoated. It looks HORRIBLE on paper… especially on uncoated stock. Business cards? Hideous.

What that decision, the work I was doing in the television studio was set back a bit too. We had to update all the graphics standards I had come up with for the television courses. And they tried to force us to use the new colors. Now, I don’t know who many people out there realize how horrible green looks on television. It’s not a pretty color on TV at all.

I think 6 years of dealing with that craptastic PMS 3435 made me jaded… I dunno. Just my thoughts there. Take them for what they’re worth. About $0.21. :P

And avocado is just wrong. In any decade.


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