Gestalt theories of figure-ground,
similar proximity (contiguity, continuity) and closure (area, symmetry),
are a part of Gestalt's Principles of Perception theories (psychology)
that can be applied to design analysis.
The contrast of colours separates the figure-ground distinction very
well. The similarity between the realistic images of the model and
product form a group, which successfully focuses a user's attention
to the product. Additionally, there seems to be three different layers
of separation, which is evident in the shadow-effects: the background,
the images, and the text.
Proximity (Continuity) and Closure
The layout artist seems to have applied contour lines with the concept
of continuity. The two angled vectors suggest that the points meet
outside of the screen size. The left-most contour is in a semi-circle,
but the eye knows to complete (or "close") the rest of the implied
image: the O--to represent "Open".
The nature of websites, in general, is interactive, especially with
hyperlink navigation. Thus, user usability is an important element
for effective design, especially if the document is interactive. Although
the hyperlinks are not underlined, navigational cues, such as
circular dots containing arrows, text in the form of questions, and
contrasting colours for rollover effects, serve to point to links. However, the animated shadow
"O" of "Open" is misleading as it draws attention to itself without
any functional purpose. Organisational layout affects the usability
of the website. Although this website originally really appealed to
me visually, it soon annoyed me, which caused me to wonder whether the web developer
took into consideration usability issues in his or her design choices.
Firstly, the flash site is shown in a separate window
than its main site (http://www.lorealparis.com/open). Functionally,
such a particular design choice makes sense as some users do not have
flash-enabled browsers or do not have high speed Internet connections.
Additionally, the Open site seems to have a different sense of ethos
than the main website. However, once the flash window is opened, I
have no idea how to close it if I do not click on a provided button
that says, "Close Window". Granted, the website designers considered
the option of "exit"-ing the website, but only allowed one way out.
I could not even minimise the window without going to the Windows
taskbar or type another link as all the toolbar tools disappeared
(unless I type CTRL-O but all my browser navigational tools would
still be missing). One may argue that perhaps I am just computer illiterate,
but normally, pressing F11 would reveal tool buttons to allow me the
option to close or minimise the window.
Secondly, most people are used to order (vs. chaos). With that
in mind, I do not see any particular ordering of the frequently-asked questions
that the website lists, as the questions are not positioned in alphabetical
order, ordered by relevance, or positioned according to length. However, the left-justification of each question, allows for the eye to follow the "O" curve. On
the other hand, the use of a pop-up window to answer a specific question
is quite effective, as the window allows the user to navigate to another
question, which is still partially visible below the top layer (the
Lastly, as mentioned earlier, the Open website may not
be optimised for users who have slower connection speeds. Thus, the
size of the audience may decrease as a result. The number of visits
may also decrease if users have lower resolutions on their computer
monitors, as the white text against the textured background almost
blends together and thereby, blurring the figure-ground.