The art of Feng Shui (pronounced Fung Shway), developed over 3,000 years ago in China, promotes harmony and positive energy flow. “Feng” and “shui” means “wind” and “water” respectively. The ancient Chinese associated the relationship of wind and water with good harvest and good living, this positive energy exchange is known as ‘chi.’
Can ‘chi’ exist within our websites? Yes!
While there is no way of covering a 3,000 year old theory within this article, I will touch upon some of the elements of Feng Shui that is relevant to websites such as color, shape, text, space, and positioning.
The Use of Colors
Feng Shui places an emphasis on the five elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Each element is associated with a color. I’m not saying that the colors mentioned below should be the ‘main’ colors on your website, but instead, should be included to some degree.
- WOOD: Green, Brown
Brown and green…a tree and it’s leaves. This element promotes seasonal growth and new life. Businesses involved in landscaping, horticulture, maid service, and weddings may benefit from including these colors. Notable websites: 1800conroys.com, fertilitycommunity.com, Palmolive.colgate.com
- FIRE: Red, Strong Yellow, Orange, Purple, and Pink
Red: This color is hot, passionate, rich and celebratory. If you want your clients to feel excited and important, red is it! This color is very much used on dating and restaurant websites. Notable websites: verizonwireless.com, lavalife.com, valentines.com, and ruthchris.com.Yellow and Orange: Yellow is the color of the sun and orange is the color of the sun at sunset and sunrise. These colors offer life, new hope, and cheerfulness. Great for businesses that offer energy or investment services. Notable websites: edison.com, yesinsurance.co.uk, and ingdirect.com.
Purple: A metaphysical color that promotes peace and serenity. Businesses such as spas, astrologers, and graphics designers should use purple. Notable websites: 365daysofastronomy.org, massageeny.com, and lovebeingwoman.com.
Pink: The universal color of love and feminism. Perfect for family oriented and charitable organizations. Notable websites: mothersclick.com, babiesareimportant.com, and oprah.com
- EARTH: Light Yellow, Sandy/Earthy Tones, Light Brown
The earth is the home of all, living and non-living. It represents abundance. Grocery stores, abundant with food, may use these colors. Notable websites: safeway.com, vons.com, and theirc.org
- METAL: White, Gray
Metal, the element of ‘everything.’ Metals protect us and enrich us. It’s used to produce weapons as well as coins. A metal rewards us for achievements and nourishes us in that it is included in most multi-vitamin tablets. A white background is the most commonly used color in websites. If white is too common for you, try gray: Notable websites: crystaldiwebdesign.com, dailyom.com, and mylivingdesktop.com
- WATER: Blue, Black
Water is the element of connection and emotion. It’s recommended for websites involved with drawing a large audience. Many entertainment studios use black or dark backgrounds while popular social networking sites use blue. Notable Sites: facebook.com, abc.com, twitter.com, myspace.com
The Use of Shapes
In most websites we see three shapes: square, rectangle and circles. The most accommodating shape is the rectangle. It can stretch long or wide, accommodating all content.
Avoid restrictive shapes
The Square is restrictive, because the size of height has to match the size of width. It may show too much (or too little) of content. Circles are even more restricting. Use a circle only if you wish to focus on a single part of whole entity, like a face, or a part of a home. Please don’t use triangles unless it’s used in a company logo. The triangle stars off narrow, and then expands…very limiting.
Most Feng Shui experts advise against buying furniture with sharp edges. Why? Because edges take the shape of arrows, and arrows hurt! Thus, bad chi. Ask your Webmaster to curve the edges of images or table borders. This promotes good chi and the likelihood of returned visitors. For an example, view
The Use of Fonts
What fonts to use?
Only a few years ago web browsers limited fonts to Verdana, Arial, Comic Sans, and San Serif. Today most computers are loaded with hundreds of fonts, freeing Webmasters to be more creative. My favorite font is Trebuchet MS. It’s smooth, easy to read, and adjustable. Verdana is the next favorite because it’s wide and readable at a distance. Arial and Times New Roman are rather cliché by now but they are narrow and very pointy, thus bad ‘chi.’
Whatever font you use, the size and color are the most important attributes. Smaller fonts are difficult to read as well as fonts with color blended too much into the background. Use font size of 10pt – 14 pt with colors in complete contrast with the background (i.e. Black fonts with a white background, yellow fonts in a blue background, etc).
Narrow the reading area
Studies show that people read 20% slower on a computer monitor than paper! The eyes will grow tired and viewers will not continue reading.
Narrow the reading area of a single column so not exceed this very sentence.
Space and Layout
Alignment? Best to justify
Paragraphs aligned to the left are okay but only because it’s common. Center alignment has its place such as poetry or quotes. Right alignment is not recommended at all.
Why? We re-visit the concept of sharp edges promoting bad chi. Left, right, and center alignment causes jagged edges in the paragraphs it forms. Justify alignment limits jagged edges. Both sides of a paragraph remain straight on both sides, promoting good chi.
Personal tip: Want to know a person? Look in their closets. Cluttered closet denotes low self-esteem. A well-organized closet portrays self-respect and confidence.
Web tip: A cluttered website will communicate that you don’t care what people think. Bad chi.
A well groomed and designed website will enhance your image.
Here are some tips on space and layout:
- Avoid scattering images all over the pages.
- Keep columns of text about ¼ inch apart
- Pictures and text should also be at least ¼ inch part
- Links should be placed on top or on the left side of the page and maintained at the same place throughout the site.
Brewing Some Good Chi?
- Select the appropriate color for the vibe you wish to resonate to your audience
- Make use of rectangular shapes and remember curve your edges
- Small fonts + wrong color + stretched out paragraphs = BAD CHI
- Best of justify align
- Avoid clutterEnjoy the good chi and watch your web audience grow.