I was recently researching a news article on three Manhattan properties that are the most expensive properties on the market. $95 Million+.
This led me to a real estate agent search page located on a high end brokerage site wherein they used black boxes containing the individual agent information and links. These black boxes are separated with white space. When you visit the page you will start to see grey blobs within the intersections of the white space. And in fact, depending on your vision, these blobs will make it quite uncomfortable to look around the page for the agent of inquiry.
I have seen this before in an optical illusion called the Hermann Grid Illusion.
The Hermann grid illusion is an optical illusion reported by Ludimar Hermann in 1870. The illusion is characterized by “ghostlike” grey blobs perceived at the intersections of a white (or light-colored) grid on a black background. The grey blobs disappear when looking directly at an intersection.
I am sure the designer had no clue they were creating a layout that would be so annoying to the visual cortex but this illusion will make most people want to leave the page as quickly as possible. If I were to redesign the agent directory, I would make the agent boxes white with a thin dark border on each box and possibly a light grey background. In fact I am sure the image I have placed on the page is distracting you as you are trying to read this post
It is hard enough getting traffic to a site much less keep people on the site. We have to design sites that make the eyes comfortable, easy to navigate, and provide action points as quickly as possible