How often do you search a certain website and eventually give up because you just can’t find what you want? How many times have you had to put on glasses in order to read the text? And how frustrating is it when certain websites makes you scroll your screen from left to right to complete a sentence?
Your website visitors are busy, impatient, and have ten other webpages open that are competing for their attention. They will leave your website if they can’t very quickly find what they are looking (in a matter of seconds) or if they have to work too hard to get it.
Good website design is a crucial element to attracting and keeping users. To help you out, here are some simple do’s and don’ts that will help improve your website design:
Home is where the “HOME” is
A surprisingly common (and painful) mistake is forgetting to include prominent button that can quickly guide your readers back to the home page. This makes it difficult to navigate your site, which in turn frustrates users and leads them to abandon it (most likely never to return). The site below is a great example for a wise use of navigation.
Spell it out for your audience
Contrary to what many people think, visitors to a new webpage first notice text and only then notice graphics and design. Great graphics are important, but the right use of text (short, and to the point) can be just as important to communicating your message to your audience. Furthermore, too many graphics and special effects can sometimes dilute your message and tire your audience. Check out this site as an example.
Size matters (font size, at least)
Have a lot to say? But you don’t want text to take most of your page? Making the text small is not the solution. Never make your text smaller than 10 points, or larger than 14. It’s difficult to read! Also, although you think the Italic version of a handwritten font is super cool? it’s also hard to read! Stick to the regular Ariel or similar fonts.
Make your web-pages easy to read. If you can’t shorten your message, break it up into blocks of text and create short paragraphs. Create headings and subheadings to get your point across quickly. Don’t use too many fonts, and be consistent about how and where you use them.
Behind the words
You often visit websites that use long, white text on a black background. Or worse, red text on a blue background (or the opposite). Worst of all: any text on a flickering background. This is web abuse! Please have mercy on your visitors. Take example from this site.
Sharing is caring, but can also be scaring
The recent blossoming of social media networks has brought some websites to a state in which you can hardly read the text, because it’s hidden among endless buttons for sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, etc. Sharing is a great feature, but make it classy, not shabby. Readers that like your website, or content, will look for the sharing button themselves, no need to poke their eyes.
Scrolling from left to right is old school, in a bad way. Your site should only incorporate vertical scrolling. Also keep in mind that some readers won’t scroll down, so keep your important information above the fold.
You have followed all the design rules successfully and now want to publish your website? Ask someone you trust to review it before you publish. After working on your website for a while, you will never look at it with fresh eyes again. A friend that sees it for the first time, can give you honest feedback from the perspective of a first time visitor.
Don’t have a personal website yet? #fail! Get started today and create a free website!