Welcome to A Little Birdie Design! We are a boutique graphic design company who are happy to service every industry. This site is primarily devoted to showcasing some of the work that we have completed recently and are proud of - particularly for local companies. We love to get behind new products and services, do their design work and promote their goods.
We'll also be posting tips and tricks relating to graphic design and digital image creation. Our designers have years of experience and are willing to spend the time writing some of that knowledge down and sharing it with the world.
If you'd like to get in touch with us, please email Summer and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.
Design often has a strong intuitive aspect. Designers know
what looks good on a level that’s part art, part science. But there are some
known facts that can help us choose design features, from fonts to colours, in
terms of how they’re known to affect audiences. Everyone can see that if you’re
building a website to sell cookies, German Gothic is a bad font choice. If
you’re in corporate finance, you should probably dodge Lucida Handwriting. If
you run a babysitting service, your website background probably shouldn’t be
black. But how exactly do the right design choices resonate subconsciously with
audiences, creating the associations we want?
Scott Mickelson takes us through it.
has to be like a well-engineered component: it has to do several jobs
simultaneously. It has to look good. It has to make navigating the website
simple and easy – easier than clicking away to something else online. And it
has to make the conversion funnel that leads to sales as compelling and
inviting as possible.
website is designed, the objective is to influence people’s behavior. That
means an understanding of how design choices affect people at the psychological
level is important. If putting big yellow dots on your website made people feel
a compulsion to sign up to email lists, there would be a lot of polka dots on
the internet. We can look to purely visual subconscious cues like this – we
don’t have to delve into mysticism to see that certain colors invoke certain
moods or thoughts – or to the use of language and imagery to suggest cultural
references that imply trustworthiness, playfulness, professionalism, youth,
authority or whatever ideas are appropriate to meet the needs of the site.
major elements that go into creating a website are
content, layout, color and typography. Obviously these don’t exist in isolation – you have to
choose a color for your words, and decide where to lay them out on the page for
instance, and overall the feel of a website will be produced by interactions
between design elements – but we can talk a little about each one and how to
make great choices to improve that specific element.
the heart of a website; the core of what really wants to be said. In the web’s
early days, content meant text, and boy, was there a lot of text. Websites
would feature the scroll bar to infinity as a body of uninterrupted text,
sometimes lacking even paragraphs, meandered on, telling the reader everything
they might ever want to know in relation to the subject. That approach didn’t
survive the migration onto the web of people who knew how to talk to people,
and modern websites don’t so much eschew copy as use a carefully measured dose
to achieve the desired result. Visual content is no different – the trade-off
between empty space and visuals has to mean that the individual elements grab
your attention, but the website as a whole doesn’t feel jarring or intrusive.
content needs to be both edited and organized, so that visitors don’t feel
overwhelmed. Instead, they should feel they’re being invited in, and the
content they find should feel like their own discovery.
content is ill-organized, that’s what your visitors will think about the brand
behind it. If it’s well-produced and professional-looking, that will rub off
onto the brand itself.
The way a
website is laid out can affect the way visitors feel. When you’re organizing
content, it’s vital to consider the effect that will have on the overall
layout. We’re talking about the trade-off between visuals and white space.
on your color choices, your ‘white space’ might not actually be white. But it
will be empty of visually arresting elements that demand the reader’s
attention.Without these areas of ‘on’
and ‘off’ design, the website will lack contrast. An ‘everything louder than
everything else’ design scheme actually makes the visuals feel like mashed
potato – lacking in texture and undistinguishable. White space, often actually
white, is making its way into more and more websites in a big way as bigger
screens and better mobile technology give designers more choice, and the
competition for attractive and tasteful layouts increases.
fashion is definitely moving in that direction: we’re seeing complex,
multicoloured layouts giving way to simpler two or three color layouts, where
the amount of white space can actually outweigh the content. As Mark Boulton
says, the mantra used to be, ‘white space is empty space,’
but now clients can see the error of this thinking.
though this isn’t true for the web, white space has the effect of making an
item look more upmarket. That has to do with the implied assumption that the
brand doesn’t need to scream and wave its arms for visitors to be interested,
but it also harks back to the days when everything was hardcopy. Whitespace
meant you could afford to have paper that wasn’t doing anything.
space affects composition by controlling how busy a page seems, too. Too little
white space, especially around textual content, and readers find themselves
craning and squinting – when a couple of design alterations could have made the
same amount of text at more or less the same size seem a relaxing and inviting
this post, I talked about using color to change the way people behave. In fact,
color can have quite a strong effect on background mood. It can also be a
powerful way to refer to cultural ideas and to reinforce the message content is
Red is a bright,
energizing and exciting color that also calls to mind passion, power and,
sometimes, anger. In nature, it’s used to warn and show danger; in web design,
we’re usually not trying to scare people away – but we might want to borrow
red’s associations with determination and boldness.
less sharp reds, like brick and maroon, can be strong and comforting, meaning
they’re good choices for sites that want to convey a feeling of stability.
Conversely, slightly harder reds like tomato, true red and crimson, are great
for youthful-looking sites that want to embrace red’s connections with danger
and excitement – qualities that will engage the visitors you want, not drive
Pink is very
strongly associated with girlishness – with youth and femininity together. (It
didn’t use to be – pink was once for boys, and blue for girls, but that’s
another story.) Pink can be used to make older visitors feel sentimental or
nostangic, or to call to mind ‘good old days,’ and it’s a popular color for
sites aimed at young women and girls. It can be used to more provocative effect
in the cases of hot pink and very bright pinks, but these colors can be
Orange is less
overpowering than red, less gendered than pink and yet remain a bright, fun
color. For that reason, it’s a familiar sight on sites that want to emphasize
their creativity or youthfulness without coming across as provocative or
Yellow is an
extremely versatile color, partly because its effects change so much with the
brightness of the shade. It’s considered an energizing color when it’s light
and bright, and it’s a popular choice for young children’s websites where it
gets attention and seems warm and happy. More subtle shades of yellow have
different connotations, with darker shades redolent of antiquity and suggesting
both wisdom and curiosity. These qualities sometimes see yellow used for
business sites that want to look modern as well as professional.
associated in viewers’ minds with the environmental movement and increasingly
with social causes. Websites promoting ethical causes often choose green, but
it can also be a comforting color, or even a dignified one suggesting permanence
and luxury, in the case of dark, strong greens. Its similarity to the color of
currency means that it is often chosen for financial sites. (It’s a natural
choice for gardening websites too.)
Purple was once
forbidden to be worn by anyone but royalty. Its association with wealth and
luxury outlasted the sumptuary laws that put it above other shades, and is now
a common choice for sites that want to present a luxurious, sumptuous
appearance. It’s also available in paler, less bold shades, and lavender can do
a lot of the same jobs as pink, for instance.
Blue is redolent
of dependency and security. People who work in bluechip companies wear blue
suits. It’s the color of seriousness and work, though light, floaty blues can
gain by an association with cleanness, clarity and spirituality.
combination means it’s a popular choice for corporate websites; business and
professional sites will often prefer blues.
Black, white and gray are usually relegated to the background, allowing another
color to stand out from them and make the real impact. Back suggests power,
incorruptibility, modernity and sophistication. Meanwhile, white calls to mind
purity, clarity, innocence, and simplicity. Their contrasting associations as
well as their ‘not-really-colors’ positions on the spectrum make them a natural
pair. Black and white designs need to be approached with caution since they’re
very strong, but will throw all the viewer’s attention on the shape of the
design. Gray is a more neutral color, though light grays have a ‘spiritual’
feel and darker grays can make associations with calmness, age and tradition.
Gray has to be used carefully too – let it creep too much into the foreground
and it can sabotage design efforts by making the site look lacking in energy.
Browns – including
creams and tans – are often used for texture. They’re also a popularchoice for backgrounds that mirror natural
objects like wood, paper, fabric or stone, and here they convey a sense of
wholeness, relaxation and cosiness.
Creams are calm,
elegant and pure, meaning they’re a great background color for websites that
want to portray themselves as traditional. Cream and brown go well together, as
do cream and tan. It’s important to be careful that brown and cream sites don’t
end up looking underpowered and tired instead of dependable and clean.
can influence how viewers see your site. Different families of fonts have
different associations, and knowing how to invoke them can help you get the
Serif fonts are
the most traditional type – essentially, they’re traditional printsetter’s
typefaces that have migrated onto computers and then online. We’re thinking
faces like Times New Roman, Georgia, Garamond and Baskerville here, and they
convey that sense of traditionalism, seriousness and authority that their age
implies. Obviously you know when to design ‘against type’ – but by and large,
these typefaces are right for business and corporate events, and wrong for a
40s-themed big band dance party.
Sans serif fonts
carry implications that are related to serif fonts, without being exactly
similar to or opposite to them. Serif is tradition, sans is modern; serif is
authoritative, sans is universal; serif is respectable, sans is clean. Sans
serif fonts are a popular choice for conferences and seminars, and for sites
that want to gain by association with a scientific milieu, and they’re also a
lot easier to read, an important consideration if you’re designing for people
who don’t read well – hence the success of the ugly but functional comic sans.
Slab serif fonts
have thick, strong, slab-like serifs. They’re sometimes also known as
‘mechanistic serifs’ and are popular choices where a feel of almost
amateurishness is desired – like music festivals. When you want to appeal to a
younger, more energetic audience, slab serif fonts are a good choice.
like Lobster, Lucida and Brush Script are a popular choice for sites aimed at
women or that focus on celebrating events. Think of them as the rosé of
typefaces: they’re perceived as being elegant and feminine, friendly and
typefaces are usually angular, spacy sans serif fonts, radiating style and
fashion consciousness, as well as a feeling of exclusivity. Popular examples
include Eurostyle and Matchbook, Politica and Infinity.
the designer’s job to understand the psychology of design choices –
consideration needs to be made to what effect those choices will have on
visitors’ minds at the subconscious level, as well as making great design
choices in terms of appearance and function, in order to create the best
When you’re making decisions about the kinds of layout, font
or colour you’re going to use, it pays to have an idea of the kind of image
you’re portraying, and the effect your choices will have on audiences. An
understanding of that you’re saying with your imagery is one of the things you
pay a designer for - great designers know how to get your message across even
in incidental imagery and design detail, and the result is a strong, coherent
brand identity with expression based on a solid understanding of the psychology
that underpins design.