It's one thing you need to create high-quality content but your blog design needs to be aesthetically appealing to your audience so th...

The Zen of Exquisite Web Design: 10 Japanese Aesthetic Principles

zen tree
It's one thing you need to create high-quality content but your blog design needs to be aesthetically appealing to your audience so they'll be glad to read and excited to share it.

I was reading Guy Kawasaki's book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions, when I came across to the ten Japanese aesthetic principles, which Guy found in the Presentation Zen Design: Simple Design Principles and Techniques to Enhance Your Presentations book by Garr Reynold.

In this post, let me share you these Japanese principles and know how you can apply each concept to enhance the effectiveness of your blog design to attract and convert more followers, readers and most importantly, clients.

1. Kanso: Simplicity and Eliminating Clutters

Although it's tempting to have fancy blog design, but a reader's attention is very critical, same principle with writing headlines, so your web design should instantly convey your blog message instead of injecting lots of complicated details. Put yourself in the shoes of your reader, ask yourself, "Is my blog too bouncy? Are there irrelevant widgets on the sidebar and footer?". Evaluate and tweak a few and you'll see the power of zen plays in your blog.

2. Fukinsei: Asymmetry to Achieve Balance

In photography, Fukinsei has the same concept from the "Rule of Thirds". This suggests to place your subject or point of interest along one of the imaginary lines to achieve balance (see photo below). In web designing, you can refer to this principle where to position a page element. Likewise, you can use this concept on choosing photos or images you'll use for your content.

light house rule of thirds

3. Shibui: Understating and not Elaborating

It's a repeated advice in the blogosphere, to convert a visitor into a true reader or client, you need to provide value first, before anything else. Same from this Japanese principle, make your blog to be an attractor than a repellent. By providing them with high quality content, you're giving them reason why they should check out your future posts so they'll subscribe or follow you on social media, than using clever or screaming widgets.

4. Shizen: Naturalness and the Absence of Artificiality

In composing content, you can achieve "naturalness" by being conversational and persuasive on writing. On the other hand, it's a critical factor "how they appear" the moment you hit "publish". Readability is key.
Consider answering these questions:
  • Do my content's font style, easy to read? 
  • Do my font size too big or small? 
  • Do my page's background over shades the text content?
Usually, the Arial and Georgia font styles are the web's favorites. On backgrounds, no doubt "white" is widely use because it gives clean look and feel. But you can try to play with other light colors as long as it doesn't make your content tedious to read.

5. Yugen: Symbolic; Remarkable in Subtle Way

In order to avoid boredom in your blog design, it's recommended to give depth or add little mystery in it. But do it without giving hard time to your readers on poking your blog. Be creative by choosing images for your icons, badges and logo.

6. Datsuzoki: Ability to Surprise

One of the effective ways (if done right) to be enchanting and remarkable to your audience is to break their "guessing machine". What's something unique in your blog design they hadn't seen from others and able to exceed their expectations?
It can be your blog's header, page tabs or your overall theme. Moreover, captivate a reader on images you use in your blog posts. Then let her know the answer by or after reading it.

7. Seijaku: Tranquility and Sense of Place

In yoga, being calm is very important. Its purpose is to achieve greater level of relaxation without minding the pain of different yoga positions. When this principle applied in web designing, the main point is to make it welcoming and comfortably easy to access and use. One tip is to invite a friend to visit your blog then ask about her experience on using it. Importantly, ask her if there are elements (i.e. social sharing buttons, widgets), which are not functioning well or consume several minutes to execute a command.

8. Wa: Harmony and Win-Win Approach

This one's an essential, especially if you're building a business or personal brand. Always keep in mind in every tweak or element you add should work harmonically in your blog's overall theme. One simple way is to decide what colors you want to dominantly seen or recognized by a visitor. Above all, apply this for the benefits of both your readers and your blog, itself.

9. Ma: Silence to Provide Focal Point

This principle fits perfectly to get most out of a visitor's attention and interest, especially back to your blog content. Restrain to use noisy or clever elements, which may diminish the value of your content. Instead, provide ideal white space between page elements where a reader can rest her eyes while reading. If you apply this right, more likely, she'll appreciate your whole blog design.

10. Yohaku-No-Bi: Appreciating the Beauty of What is Unexpressed

Lastly, this Japanese principle sums up the whole concept, the "less is more" approach. In contrast to above principles, this suggests to "understand" than to "apply" concept. Trust your audience to appreciate the beauty of your blog design by using the power of simplicity while giving value in every space and pixels in your blog.

Over to you...

Which Japanese principles your favorite above? Do you know other aesthetic or design basis?
Let us know in the comment form below.

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Flickr photo (Zen Tree) by  h.koppdelaney
Rule of Thirds (light house) photo by Photography Mad
Flickr (light house) photo by: Trey Ratcliff

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