One of my favorite places to shop online is Nordstrom.com, simply because it is an easy site to maneuver and also appealing to the eyes. When online shopping, it can become overwhelming if the site has a lot of flashy colors or just a lot of text everywhere you look. Nordstrom, however, has mastered graphic design by utilizing plenty of white space, contrasting colors where necessary, and implementing creative cropping, among several additional techniques described by Dave Underwood in his series of videos.
Dave Underwood’s short series of videos discusses the benefits of graphic design and how it can ultimately make or break someone’s opinion about whatever it is being advertised. Underwood focuses on three areas within graphic design: pathos, ethos, and logos. Pathos is the major one as it is described as making the design aesthetically pleasing and attention grabbing. Ethos and logos are the more specific details as far as making graphic design look professional and in a way that makes sense to the audience.
Pathos as the Driver
The three main techniques I notice on Nordstrom.com all fall under the pathos category. The first being the use of plenty of white space to not overwhelm the audience. As mentioned by Dave Underwood, white space actually draws the audience’s eye more than flashy colors do. Therefore, the white space is a nice touch to simply add a calming effect and let the audience have some open space.
Another pathos technique is to contrast colors in order to make an added emphasis. By adding a contrast, the audience is more likely to notice the main focal point of an image as their eye is automatically drawn to it. As pictured to the left, the image of the lady wearing a black dress is contrasted by the white purse she holds in her hand. In such a manner, the audience is aware that what is being advertised is the white purse at the center of the image, as opposed to the black dress in the background. While this image is clearly intended to advertise the white purse, it also demonstrates a quick and simple outfit idea and shows what one might wear with this purse.
A final pathos technique demonstrated on Nordstrom.com is creative cropping. Creative cropping allows the designer to crop the image in such a way that is visually pleasing to the audience at the same time as emphasizing the most important part of an image. An example of creative cropping can also be found in the image to the left, where the designer has cropped the photo to just include the model’s waist down to just above her feet. In doing so, it makes it very clear to the audience that they are supposed to focus on the white purse in the model’s hand, not the black dress or any of the model’s accessories.
Ethos and Logos Filling in the Extra Spaces
In addition to the three main pathos techniques described above, Nordstrom.com also considers several of the ethos and logos techniques as well. For example, the website only uses a couple of typefaces and they are only the original and very basic fonts. In doing so, it makes it very easy for the reader’s eye to scan through the website, without any random cursive or block text popping out at them. And finally, Nordstrom.com knows exactly when to stop. They do not overdo the graphic design, and instead are able to keep it very concise and easy for the audience to absorb.
The End Result
After analyzing the techniques employed by Nordstrom’s graphic design team, it is easy to understand why I love shopping on their website so much. Overall, the website demonstrates strong visual rhetoric skills and makes it very relatable to all its online users. By using white space, color contrasting, and creative cropping under the pathos category, as well as basic typefaces and demonstrating “less is more” under ethos and logos, Nordstrom’s resulting website is one that makes online shopping an enjoyable experience for everyone.