Science fiction has an interesting relationship with the future which has often been explored by philosophers and culture writers. On the one hand of course, science fiction is supposed to anticipate and guess the future, and of course that’s what it does for the most part. Sometimes it gets this right, but more often than not it gets it wrong as was the case with flying cars and jetpacks which every movie and book seemed to think would be a part of every day life by now.
But what’s more interesting perhaps is that science fiction can also sometimes influence the future. Take for instance the automatic doors that many shops and facilities use. Apparently these only exist thanks to Star Trek which provided the inspiration.
When it comes to working online though and creating web design, the science fiction influence that is felt most commonly is the touch-screen interface featured on Minority Report and countless science fiction movies since. Minority Report features an interface that was designed by a ‘think tank of futurists’. Steven Spielberg gave them the job of creating something that would be ‘like conducting an orchestra’ but that would also be a realistic prediction for the future.
Fast forward a few years and suddenly every new interface is touch based and uses a range of intuitive commands such as pinch to zoon and twist to rotate. There’s also a lot of blue. The iPhone you could say owes its career to Minority Report, but so too then do many of the other new and upcoming developments. The Kinect was actually devised by one of those same guys from that think tank, while Pixel Sense which is being used for ‘table top computing’ seems to take the whole concept even further.
So what can we learn from all this?
Minority Report and Web Design
Well what’s important to remember is that Minority Report is a piece of science fiction and a movie. What works well onscreen is not necessarily what’s the most practical to use in real life, so copy-pasting Spielberg’s design wholesale isn’t really going to be practical.
For one, the use of dark colours and blues is something that will quickly give your visitors eyestrain. White is perhaps the most important colour in web design, and will help your site to look spacious while at the same time providing the perfect contrast for your writing so that it stands out.
That said though transparencies are something that you can use to great effect as long as they are used sparingly. While you shouldn’t place your text on a transparent background, you can nevertheless use transparencies for borders and images and this can give your site a great sense of colour depth that is hard to achieve with bold colours. Using multiple shades of the same colour can also be a good way to accomplish this.
The best lesson to take from Minority Report however is that the best interfaces will always be intuitive. Minority Report’s UI works well because the audience understands intuitively how Tom Cruise is interacting with it without requiring any exposition. This is something that you should aim to accomplish for your site so that people see it and instantly know how to interact with it. Think outside the box, make your site fun and tactile to navigate, but keep it obvious at all times.This guest post can be credited to Vadim Kirichenko. He is an SEO and runs a firm dedicated to web design in Toronto. He likes sharing web designing advice on his blog and also recommends watching science fiction movies as he finds them a useful resource to gain more knowledge about interface design and other useful aspects.