After learning about how to be critical about web design from Mauvé Page’s design principles, I find myself perceiving my favourite websites through a fresh lens. The Jellycat website is home to hundreds of soft and furry friends, and I love browsing through collections to admire the vast collections of niche plushes. Since I am signed up for their email newsletter, this is an activity I do quite frequently.
Through applying Page’s design principles to conduct a critical analysis of the Jellycat site, I have realized there is more to just cute stuffed animals that makes me a regular visitor. There are many excellent elements of the website that creates a stress-free, enjoyable user experience. Nonetheless, I will also provide a couple suggestions for elements that could be improved.
Looking at the site’s home page, I am immediately drawn to the excellent balance demonstrated through the eye-catching dynamic video, stationary menu at the top of the screen, and a simple call to action at the bottom of the page that entices visitors to keep exploring the page. The clear-cut sections of the initial page creates a clear, and simple base-design that allows the whimsical plushes to speak for themselves. The division of thirds on the page additionally emphasizes the products and the fun video in a digestible way, as the rest of the page remains understated. As you scroll down, more white/negative space is introduced which is a nice refresher from the video playing at the top of the page. Again, it allows for the products being sold to stand out and allure shoppers.
Continuing down the home page, we see a sequence of new and previously-seen elements on the page. This helps to create movement that is unexpected and engaging, but not disorienting. The simplistic display and theme of the site is maintained through the use of straight lines and symmetrically-organized boxes, which controls the rhythm of the page to align with its values of simplicity. As one keeps scrolling, repetition of product placement is used to keep the site’s purpose clear and effective– it is an online store.
Images, buttons, and text are manipulated into different layouts throughout the home page, which ultimately creates a structured and clean display while keeping the visitor’s attention. Different sized blocks and images are arranged in relatively different sizes to emphasize a freshness and variety that Jellycat has to offer. Put generally, it makes the site interesting to look at. Additionally, the larger photos emitting a comfy and soft vibe draws visitors to really connect with the products, which is integral to an online store.
Contrast is used in quite a minimalistic way on the Jellycat site. The brand’s consistent use of its signature bright blue reflects very nicely on the use of white space. More importantly, however, the intentional use of white as a background for the products creates an essential contrast that directs visitors to browse the bright-coloured, texture-rich plushes. In fact, you’ll notice that the site’s main colour palate is limited to only neutral colours and the blue, emphasizing the colours of the plushes and creating a holistic joyful visual when multiple are on the screen at once. As mentioned, the cleanliness of straight lines and boxes seen throughout the site creates a contrast with the softness of the products, emphasizing them even more. Additionally, the home page specifically manages 1-3 main areas of focus at a time, changing as you scroll through each display. This holds up a good variety of balance and contrast.
Ultimately, I think all of these design principles are used in such a way where each one complements another. Balance, rhythm, proportion, and contrast work together to create a well-developed image, brand, and theme for Jellycat. It values simplicity with a wholesome essence to best propel their adorable plushes into site visitors’ virtual carts. Consistent shapes, colours, visuals, text, and functional blocks make the site predictable and navigable, while offering variety in layout of these elements and the abundance of products on the site.
You can see for yourself, it’s difficult to not get sucked into the world of Jellycat once you’re on the site. The products speak for themselves, but the site design functions as a thoughtful, clean shelf to optimally display them on.
Although there are very few things I dislike about the site, I would be interested to see what the website would look like with more negative space throughout each page. When quickly skimming the pages, it seems to appear as cluttered, as there are a lot of small items to feature on each page. It could be argued that this adds to the wholesome chaos captured in tons of plushes, but it may be beneficial to the brand’s clean and basic display to see more negative space being used.
While my application of Page’s design principles remains centered around the Jellycat home page, I would also suggest making each categorical page (in the menu) have consistent layouts. Despite each page being pleasant to look at and easy to follow, the inconsistencies between the pages could be avoided to facilitate an altogether more put-together site.
Jellycat. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2023, from https://www.jellycat.com/us/
Page, M. (2023). Web Design and Type on Screens [PowerPoint Slides]. Department of Publishing, Simon Fraser University.