Spur, a Website Critique Tool

I’ve written before about Notable, our go-to tool for communicating about design. The same people who make Notable, Zurb, have another tool called Spur which allows different kinds of design critiques.

One of the issues with design, especially for nondesigners, is that we get distracted. We read the text, think about what we usually do at a website, react emotionally to colors, and otherwise get involved with the content in ways that keep us from really seeing the layout or other specific points relating to the design itself.

Spur lets us change the way we look at web designs, reducing that natural distraction. Here’s our new design for a local realtor, in its original form:

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Here it is in grayscale, so we can see the forms without being distracted by the colors:

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In grays, the design’s beautiful bones show more clearly. We can see the structure and balance.

Spur also lets us look at a blurred version of the design. CPG package designers often use this trick to make sure that their designs will be recognizable and appealing to shoppers who are grabbing things off the shelf rather than focusing and studying the design (i.e., nearly all shoppers). Since we know that web visitors often make the decision to stay at a site or go within seconds, the same technique can make sense for us.

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The blurred version lets us see that even a quick glance will show the visitor homes and buildings. That wasn’t as true of an earlier version of the design:

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Though both designs are modern and polished, the new design makes “what we do” more obvious.

Another interesting option is the Contrast view:

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By exaggerating the contrast of the design, this view lets you check the balance and ensure that headlines, logos, and other such elements are eye-catching.

Spur has eight different options, with suggestions for the use of each. It’s slow to load, but it’s also free, so who’s complaining? It also has an a cowboy animation to keep you entertained while it loads. Try it out!

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