Art Direction Language

Last Updated 09.28.03

General Description

To maintain a family resemblance between all applications within the Oracle product line, below an art direction statement has been made to help understand the rationale and thinking behind the visual directions being determined for HTML applications.
Collage of Various Elements in BLAF to Outline the Art Direction Language

Spec Attributes

Spec Version # - 3.1
Spec Contributors - Betsy Nute
UI Models - All models
Example Products - all products
Related Guidelines - all

Interaction and Usage Specifications

Not applicable.

Visual Specifications

Art Direction Rationale - The HTML application suite visual design direction is targeted to match the latest business goals and objectives of Oracle. Oracle is an "internet" company. With slogans like, "The Internet Changes Everything,"; "Oracle - #1 in eBusiness," it is important that the applications we ship reflect the "internet" aspect of our products. To capitalize on this aspect, a visual elements list was created to enumerate exactly what may be perceived as web like. But to be more articulate, below is the detailed art direction for BLAF applications:

Predominately Blue and White Palette with Beige Accents

The color palette that is being used remains relatively unchanged, with the main difference being that the predominerance of grey has been replaced with white, and an accent color has been used to add "warmth." Besides this, the blue palette remains unchanged. This new palette, now offers a clean, professional, and business like look that can convey messages such as: trust, security, cleanliness, precision, conservative, technology, comfort, and warmth.*

Rounded and Square Shapes

To remain within the family of all Oracle products (including Java products) yet, also convey a web like form, the predominate shapes within the self service art direction have been reassessed. From the findings above in the elements list, it is clear that the web has many more free form visual elements present, than, say, a typical GUI application. To capitalize on this, the new art direction style perscribes the use of not only curves, but also sharp corners and rectangular shapes. It has been researched that rounded shapes are quite effective in portraying psychological responses like connection, community, and comfort. Whereas, a rectangular shape can evoke responses such as order, logic, and security.* Along with these responses, the use of these two shapes together will add a dynamic and original feel to the overall page layout since these two shapes are complimentary in nature.

Visual Hierarchy of Information through Size and Depth

To maintain a sense of visual hierarchy within self service applications, the art direction recommends size and depth be used. Using different sized visual elements within the new UI will aid the user to focus on the most important elements and information first and form a mental hierarchy of information. This technique can also prevent the design from becoming cluttered, with too much information at relative weights, and importance, such that the user may perceive no clear notion of importance of information. Another technique used to create visual hierarchy in this art direction is the use of depth, giving 3d attributes to visual objects. This not only enforces the information hierarchy, but also can convey messages such as professionalism, richness, and sophistication.

Sans-Serif Typeface

The font choice is to use a sans-serif font to convey cleanliness, and modernity. The chosen fonts, specified in the Text Standards and CSS Guideline is to be defaulted to Arial, and as an alternative, Helvetica. Also, Arial font (or a sans-serif font face) is preferred by low vision users, thus the usage of Arial enforces Oracle's compliance to accessibility standards. Here is a comment from an article regarding sans-serif fonts: "A less formal, more warm and friendly type style, a sans-serif typeface typically makes an excellent screen font as it is clear and easy to read."*

Minimize Rendered Icons, Emphasize Simplified, Stylistic Graphics in Content

The art direction can also be seen through the use of icons and other graphics within the content of the web page. Since the presentation of the toolbar has been changed, one ramification is that the use of highly rendered icons have been minimized. This minimization will also be beneficial, since the icon visual style is seen more typically in application designs, but not necessarily in web pages. With the minimized use of icons, the new art direction demands that more attention should be placed on graphics within the content. The styles of these graphics should be less rendered, with a more stylized and simplistic look thus, not to be competitive with the UI and task at hand. Also, rendering these graphics in the content with visuals from the application domain can play another role of enforcing the unique and individual characteristics from each application family (i.e., using HR specific imagery in HR applications, or Financial imagery for Financial applications.)

*Source of information: "Satisfying Customers with Color, Shape, and Type," by Molly E. Holzshlag; Web Techniques Magazine, November 1999.

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