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Web-Interaction Model  «Prev  Next»
Lesson 2 Signs
Objective Describe how Signs apply in the Web Interaction Context

Signs Apply in the Web Interaction Context

The first layer of the Web Interaction Model is signs and metaphors.
This layer is presented first because from a user's perspective, it is the first element a user will interact with; from a design standpoint, it is the primary planning consideration.
When visitors first arrive at a site, the immediate impression they get is from the images, colors, graphics, and typeface they perceive. The "look and feel" of a site creates an instant, subconscious impression. The design team's function is to inform that impression by applying effective Signs and Metaphors.

Signs - Metaphors

Signs present information

To clarify what makes an effective sign, visualize a stop sign, where the letters, the color red, and the shape unite for a single purpose: getting you to stop!
For designers, signs mean the visual markings or sounds that present information. A sign can be a letter, a number, a frame, a color, or a sound. When viewing the contents of a Web page, you are viewing a set of signs, which may include words, labels, symbols, icons, frames, color fields, or animation.
The following table describes attributes of a variety of signs. Click any of the links in the Examples column and see sites that use signs effectively.
In the next lesson, you will learn how metaphors work with signs to enrich the visitor's experience at your site.


Sign Attributes Example
Words Bulk of the editorial content. The text that fills the pages therainforestsite.com
Label A word that is part of a clickable graphic, often in a carefully designed font and color. www.amazon.com
Symbol Any object that is used to represent something more than itself. May be pictorial or non-pictorial (no resemblance or logical relationship to what it is representing). pbs.org
Icon A pictorial symbol, that is a simplified, stylized image of what is represents www.yahoo.com
Color Fields Appearing within the same page, different areas of color represent divisions of content. photographymuseum.com
Animation Active graphics on a page. May be continuous, have an assigned time limit, or may require a user's action to start and stop. www.adobe.com