Website Focus – 84 Colors

This is a new feature in our Thoughts section that I’m hoping to maintain and build on reasonably regularly. I’ve grown a bit bored of the common listicle post. You know the ones. 50 websites that use photographic backgrounds. 70 websites that use big, bold typography. 1000 websites that will increase the length of your toenails.

Listicle posts can be great for a quick source of inspiration, but sometimes you want a little more. Sometimes you want to know why the author thinks a particular website stands out from the crowd. A little more info than a name, an image and a link. So in these Focus posts I’ll be attempting to look a little deeper using just one website at a time. Today I’m going to focus on Cristiana Bardeanu’s 84 Colors website.

The 84 Colors website is all about personality. It has been around in its current state for a good couple of years now, but it has such a professional finish to it that it has stood the test of time extremely well and even now, manages to look fresh and modern. Cristiana’s website is extremely unique and it’s her level of detail and consistency of the nature theme that makes it fascinating. Below are just of a few of things that I’ve picked out as inspiring elements of her site that help show it off as one of the more impressive online portfolios. Cristiana is an artist, clearly and plainly.

Menu item hints

Tips on menu hover

Menu items offer little hints

Each item in the main navbar has it’s own little hint that pops up when you hover over them with a little arrow and a small indication of what each page contains. Not essential, given the obviousness of the links, but a nice touch all the same.

Subtle use of Flash

Flash elements

Flash is used subtly and sparingly

I’m not a big fan of Flash in websites. But the 84 Colors website manages to seamlessly blend two very subtle areas of Flash into the rest of the site. These elements are so well implemented that they are almost hard to notice at first glance. If you can’t see which bits I’m talking about, take a look at the leaves in the top right of the page and the leaves and squirrel to the left. Perfect execution and another nice touch.

Good use of fonts throughout the site

Good use of font

Portfolio links use nice font

Cristiana uses a combination of attractive fonts and appropriate typography all through her website. Lucida Sans seems to be the most prominent typeface used and it’s used in every way you can think of. Large, small, bolded, italicised. I particularly like the way it is used on the Previous Project and Next Project links in the Portfolio pages. Another example of the great level of detail employed in this site.

Consistent theme

Consistent nature theme

Elements of nature throughout the site

Lots of websites attempt the natural/environmentally friendly theme. Not all of them pull it off quite as stylishly as 84 Colors. There are plenty of little additions – grass, a squirrel, a butterfly, flowers, leaves, a spider and some nice textured background effects that collectively make this site so interesting to look at.

Bonus: a personal touch

Confidence to open and honest

A bold but commendable move

It’s refreshing to see a designer with the confidence to be open about ‘failed projects’. Though in this case I’m not sure failure comes into it. Cristana has enough confidence in her work to show the world what she can do, and how sometimes the client isn’t always right. It’s done with taste and grace, and no sign of bitterness or regret. Nicely done.


Out of all of these beautiful touches, the thing I enjoy most about this site, is Cristiana’s use of typography. I’m not a huge typography nut like some designers, but in this particular site I find it extremely easy to identify the different sections based on the typography and fonts alone, which is a definite indication of type being used properly. Good use of bolding, italics and a consistent colour palette make that all possible.

All of the details and all of the thought that has gone into the build and design of 84 Colors make for a very complete website that is hard to take your eyes off. It makes you wonder how people can still have a misplaced sense of importance when it comes to design. And this is why 84 Colors is the first site I have chosen to focus on.

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