There are plenty of web sites out there in which basic elements of design are ignored. The viewer may experience overkill and frustration, instead of gently receiving the message or information. Here are some simple ways to help clarify your web site's message for your company or organization. Use the web as a tool for sales, community contact, and to improve, rather than detract from a business entityís image.
Choosing Your Images
Choose site images carefully. Collect simple illustrations or photographs that are in sync with company mission or philosophy. A few select images will have more impact than many images competing for the eyeís attention. Avoid images that are distracting or trendy. Donít simply use graphics to be cool.
How many photos or images are appropriate? A good rule of thumb is one to two images per web page. Select photos and images as carefully as you select the text, and youíll be on your way to a better site. The exception to the rule is for sites that market a large amount of products or contain many points of interest, where small thumbnail images may be more appropriate.
Placement of Images on the Page
Do you want the photo or graphic to be the centerpiece? The first thing the eye sees? If so, place it in the central position. If not, maybe the photo or graphic is related to some of the text, and it can be placed nearby this text to accentuate it. Remember, we read from left to right. Some say the left represents the past, the center the present, and the right the future. Content may be organized this way on the page intentionally, to heighten this resonance with the viewer.
Donít let site images be a distraction or hindrance to understanding. Instead, they should blend well into site content and not be a contrast to the message on the page. Images should not compete with content, they should enhance it.
Images should look as nice and clear as possible. There is an important balance to keep between image file size and quality. Always keep in mind that the file size and dimensions of your images will ultimately control overall page loading time. A slow-loading site will be frustrating to any user. Generally, pages load from the top down, so it is an important point to remember not to design your pages with large image files that fill the top of each page.
Itís important not to overdo the writing on a page. Consider how much the user will read and write site content to capture the typically short attention spans of the viewers. Be succinct, and most importantly: be clear. Write subheads and set them in bold, slightly larger type. Carefully placed subheads allow the casual viewer to scan the content of your site.
Write for Search Engines
Research your clientele, and your targeted audience, and always develop content that sells your products, services, or organization. If you or your organization are lacking the expertise to write good copy, hire a professional writer to do the job.
Some web specific writing techniques are important. Try to use select keywords on each page that will lead new users to consider your business or services. Write this text directly into your copy. The first 20 words of your web site text should be what you want people to see in search engine results as a summary of your site.
To simplify the userís experience, set your site up so that he can get to the intended location easily with no more than three clicks. The overall design of your site must be clear and intuitive so the user can navigate the content easily. If you must use symbols to direct the reader, always attach some explanatory text for the user, so they know where clicking the symbol will take them.
These are just a few of the basics of effective and clear web design. These tips provide ways to guide the user around your site, rather than frustrate them. With site clarity and ease of use, your clients and prospects are educated about your products and services, and have more reason to purchase them.
Edward Robirds is a success-driven artist and interactive media developer based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Since 1996, Edward has been building business relationships with several association and commercial clients around the world. Founder of www.DreamseaArtworks.com, Edward uses his artistic skills, expertise and passion to design and develop web sites, interactive CD-ROMs, and print media for his clients.