If you didn’t blink, you may have noticed that for a few days recently Wikipedia’s entry for Web 2.0 included a subsection describing the visual elements of Web 2.0. Gradients, colorful icons, reflections, dropshadows, and large text all got a mention.
A few days later the “visual elements” addition had been removed after a vote by wikipedians. The objection, I suppose, is that no set of visual criteria can accurately define something as being characteristic of Web 2.0 – if Web 2.0 can be understood as an approach to generating and distributing content, then it needn’t be tied to a particular visual style.
Nevertheless, it’s true that many Web 2.0 sites do share a distinctive aesthetic. Wikipedia’s editors may not think it’s a worthy part of the Web 2.0 discussion, but I say bring it on! Let’s take a look at the some of the communication issues facing a Web 2.0 site, and see how the “Web 2.0 look” can help to solve them.
Integral to Web 2.0 is harnessing the input of website visitors. Users can generate content for a web service, promote it in a “viral” peer-to-peer fashion, and improve it’s data quality through their opinions and preferences.
But to convince a visitor to contribute their time – and data – to a web application, you need to get them to trust you first. Most Web 2.0 sites come across as friendly, approachable and small-scale, using subtle design decisions to gain our trust.
Bright, cheerful colors dominate Web 2.0 sites. Green is the unofficial color of web 2.0, but saturated blues, oranges and pinks are also favourites. Bold primary colors suggest a playful, fun attitude and also help to draw attention to important page elements.