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I am working on a fashion website for my own portfolio. However it allows users to have their own account where they can save fashion related items. A sort of Pinterest for fashion items.

Now, I know that the most widely used colours are black and white or white and black for online fashion stores. With so much choice, I wondered if it is ok to add tints of other colours or will this destroy the UX? If yes, which tints do you think I should add and are best suited? I was thinking of a sleek, modern and retro(ish) design, that is largely flat.

Share your vision with me. How would you do it?

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closed as off topic by JohnGB, ChrisF, Matt Obee, Bennett McElwee, Charles Wesley Apr 15 '13 at 15:26

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I don't see the UX question here. It seems to be more of a design question. – JohnGB Apr 13 '13 at 9:50
@JohnGB - yes, but visual design questions can be answered in much the same way as UX questions - by considering a use case, a viewer and what the organisation hopes to communicate. – Jimmy Breck-McKye Apr 13 '13 at 10:26
@JohnGB I would say that a good 30-40% (if not more) of your UX depends on your UI and the design approach you take. Patterns, colours, palettes all matter in UX. – Elmar Apr 13 '13 at 10:32
@JimmyBreck-McKye the problem is that those sorts of questions are subjective and so amount to a discussion. There are good examples that use almost every colour, and people supporting every one. – JohnGB Apr 13 '13 at 10:40
@Elmar It is possible to do UX without ever touching on visual design, especially if they are looking at UX as an end to end thing. If someone is doing visual design as well as UX then it's likely they're working on smaller projects with a small team. For medium to large projects it's better to get in specialists. – Stewart Dean Apr 13 '13 at 12:01
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I would stick to black and white. There are a few reasons for this.

Firstly, using a standard aesthetic for the domain will help users recognise the purpose of your site. This, in turn, reduces the amount of 'work' your design must do to explain the content of your pages.

Secondly, luxury products benefit from being displayed in a minimalistic manner thanks to the horror vacuii effect. You'll find black and white an easier scheme to work with for minimalism, because you don't need accent colours different from your type (text) colours. I would probably not use pure black and white (I'd reduce the contrast to look a little less cheaply utilitarian), but a dual colour scheme is probably the right choice.

Finally, I would worry that other key colours might take attention away from the products. Your product photos need to be the most striking thing on screen, without exception. Browns and maybe dark blues are acceptable, but anything in the red or yellow ranges is going to take too much focus.

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Thanks Jimmy. Also I got another question. I am organising the images in sort of Pinterest mode, but without any background (sort of like On hover, an additional options menu appears. Although it looks beautiful, it has many setbacks in UX. Do you think this is the best approach for a user centered website? – Elmar Apr 13 '13 at 10:29
@Elmar - that's impossible to say without knowing what content you're revealing on hover, what the use case is and what clues you've provided that the content exists. I fear you may be thinking the question is much simpler than it actually is. – Jimmy Breck-McKye Apr 13 '13 at 10:33
@Elmar - if you found the response helpful, could you please upvote it? Thanks. – Jimmy Breck-McKye Apr 13 '13 at 10:35
Sorry Jimmy, even though I found it great advice, my reputation is still not high enough to give out votes. I tried to vote up, but I need a reputation of 15. But as soon as I get it, I will vote up. – Elmar Apr 13 '13 at 10:38
Having worked on several fashion sites the issue with black and white is that there is a strong chance that sites become samey. From a usability point of view this can lead to a lack of context for the user. The aim is to be legible and clear - past that it is down to the complexities that a good visual designer will understand and is a case for UX people to work with design specialists. – Stewart Dean Apr 13 '13 at 12:05

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