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Visual Content and Concepts Part II: Concepts

“Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak” – John Berger, Ways of Seeing

The essence of this book is that we “see” before we read, speak, and walk. Concepts and design should be well crafted because it is the first thing someone will notice and “see” about your site. The essence of your website should be a solid concept or framework of design and the visual ideas that support it. 

Concept choices in art and design try to convey a visual representation of a design, idea or mood. These are usually abstract ideas, such as emotion, but it can also be physical ideas or defined as the idea around your work, or why you are making something. Art professors frequently ask their students why they choose to make certain decisions with their art. Websites can follow these same rules to create a cohesive and beautiful website that viewers enjoy spending time on. Frequently ask yourself why you have chosen certain design elements, do they embody your concept? Do your choices maintain, support and elevate the business identity?

A conceptual idea could be the attempt to embody the idea of joy or memories for a wedding photographer’s website. The concept can be simple, complex or physical or abstract. On websites, conceptual design choices that aid the main content, such as your text and photos, shouldn’t interfere or steal attention from the main content. These design choices, such as backgrounds, text, and layout may not be immediately obvious or overt in relation to your content, but that’s ok. Subtle, yet creative design choices are classy and sophisticated. In design, a good concept will speak for itself, so think about ways to “abstract” your content or concept into the form of color, shapes, layouts, text styles, etc. so that your actual content is quietly represented throughout your site.

In trying to abstract your content, use off-screen inspiration along with sites that inspire you. Related off-screen  inspiration can influence great ideas that lift the design into an intelligent, subtle and creative design. Also, think about key words that describe your business. Do these words have specific shapes, colors, textures, space or energy that could be incorporated in your site? Build a concept around these words and the images they evoke. Visual keywords mean different things to different people, so be sure to explain or show your designer, if using one, what you mean.