Feng Shui for Websites
Okay, at first glance, this does sound ridiculous. What could an ancient Chinese art possibly have to teach us about a 21st Century technology like web design? But just bear with me a moment on this one ? I?m about to show you how those ancient Chinese spiritualists could teach us all a thing or two about the Internet.
What is Feng Shui?
Before we go any deeper, I?d best start with an explanation ? what is Feng Shui? Well, put simply, it?s about balance and harmony. It?s about the arrangement of certain objects in a certain way to promote positive feelings. And, according to the Feng Shui experts, at the centre of this balanced, harmonised world, is an energy force called ch?i which, if allowed to flow freely, will promote happiness. If, on the other hand, it is not allowed to flow freely, it will stagnate ? and then you?re in real trouble.
What?s that got to do with websites?
At this point, you?re probably wondering what any of this has got to do with the online world of hyperlinks, navigation bars and banner advertisements. So I?ll get to the point?
Couldn?t the basic principles of feng shui ? ideas like harmony and balance, the arrangement of certain objects in a certain way to promote positive feelings ? couldn?t they be very easily applied to web design, too? It seems to me that the fundamental principles of good Feng Shui are almost exactly the same as the fundamental principles of a good website. And since the principles of Feng Shui have been around for about 5,000 years, and web designers have been around for less than twenty, let?s give Feng Shui it?s due respect. Let?s see if it can give us some practical tips for a great website.
According to the rules of Feng Shui, straight, angular lines do not allow ch?i to flow freely through them. This promotes stagnation and bad Feng Shui. So we can be sure that our ancient Chinese friends would certainly not have approved of the popular structure of most websites, with a straight navigation bar down the left and one across the top. A great web design tip is to break up the straight lines on your site with a few curves and some unusually-shaped objects. It?ll make it much easier on the eye, and a site that is easy on the eye is one your users will want to visit again.
When it comes to colours, good Feng Shui is all about clean, bright colours, whilst dark or dingy colours cause the stagnation of ch?i. Once again, Feng Shui can provide us with a practical web design tip. When it comes to choosing the colour scheme for your website, be bold and positive with your choices. As long as your site is filled with sharp, bright colours ? and not darkness or dinginess ? you?re be onto a winner from the start.
Reaching a dead-end is just about the worst thing that can happen to someone according to the rules of Feng Shui. Since good Feng Shui is about flowing movement, something that stops this abruptly is very damaging. This is a particularly easy Feng Shui tip to apply to your website. Think of your user?s movement through the pages of your website like the flow of ch?i. Is there anything that could halt your user?s flow abrupty? Worst of all, might the dreaded ?back? button have to be used? If so, you?re seriously damaging your user?s experience. If you ensure your users can glide easily from page to page, they?ll be more than happy to come back and do it again.
Although good Feng Shui depends on the movement of ch?i, this can all happen too fast. Feng Shui experts recommend areas of tranquillity or stillness, focal points which can provide a break from the flow of energy. In houses and gardens, they?ll often use a plant or a fish bowl to achieve this purpose. On your website, create a few designated areas of stillness ? a few open spaces, or areas with a discrete image or logo that can give your users? tired eyes a rest from the internet?s sensory onslaught.
What I hope you?ve seen is that one doesn?t have to subscribe to the beliefs of 5,000 year-old Chinese spiritualists to see that the doctrine of Feng Shui can have real, practical uses for the 21st Century web designer. The whole idea of arranging the right objects in the right way to ensure that people enjoy their environment in comfort and peace is at the centre of Feng Shui. It should also be at the centre of every web design project. If you design your site to be a comfortable and peaceful environment for your users you can be sure they?ll want to come back again and again ? and they?ll probably tell their friends.