Balancing Speed and Decoration


Web design is different from print design in typography, page layout, colors, and function. One of the key diferences is “speed” (meaning browser page load time.) Speed of comprehension is important in both. But functionally, if a webpage loads too slowly, the viewer will bail out and never see the website content. This is called the “poverty of attention.” Simply, if there is too much artistic detail to load or absorb the visitor must block the “noise” or move on to a less complicated site.

Thus, decoration (image files) are conterproductive to speed. The ideal site would have no images to slow it down. But it would then be very boring.

There are two worlds needing BALANCE.

1. Speed versus any decoration (complexity.)

2. Classical decoration versus ornate decoration (complexity, again.)

Complexity seems to be the enemy. Unlimited or unrestrained creativity can be a barrier to understanding.

Classical design doesn’t necessarily mean the load speed is fast. But when you strip a design of decoration to enhance speed, you end up with a more classical design.

Yet, decoration is perceived at subconscious speeds and influences how a user feels about a site: The First Impression. The aesthetics (body language) then is critical after getting past the speed barrier. If having endured the load time, at this moment a visitor once again decides whether to stay or leave. They instantly “feel” they’ve found the solution they were searching for. A positioning statement is a shortcut to that search motive. This is also called content relevance. If there is too much “site noise” they will not recognize or percieve the answer quick enough before “attention span” runs out.

There must be a minimal aesthetic applied in a discipled fashion (aka checklist) to achieve a balance of Classical and Expressive:

1) color (theme, complement, etc)
2) organics elements like foliage, rust, texture, etc.
3) lighting like shadow, depth, gradient, etc
4) legibility of text.
5) optimization of images.


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