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Designing a Webpage is Fun!
Designing a webpage is a fun exercise (to me at least). I get to play a split personality and think with my visitor’s brain and see from their eyes. Why? So that I don’t get too bogged down with what I want to do on the webpage.
It’s not about what you want; it’s about what your visitor wants. It is the same message you have heard 343 times on this website. Just remember, your visitors are in a rush. They want good info and they want it now!
There has been so much research conducted over time studying a website visitor’s patterns while browsing the Internet. There have been a lot of similarities found between how website visitors use webpages and how they read billboard signs, promotional messages and ads in newspapers and magazines.
I will summarize a few things to keep in mind as I have learned them over time from various readings and just personal experience. Remember you can always make small tweaks on your webpages and monitor your website analytics to see how your visitors are reacting to the changes you made.
Webpages & New Life ExperiencesHuman beings are logical for the most part. We all want to see intuitive patters and a certain order doesn’t we? Think about being introduced to something new in life. Let’s pretend you have never seen a vending machine in your life before. What will you do the first time you see one? How will you react?
You will immediately look for pictures and instructions right? The three step instructions are usually logical, and will tell you what to do at each step. If you couldn’t find instructions, will you sit there and try to figure it out? Probably not. You will risk loosing precious time and most importantly the one dollar bill that might go in and never come out!
Similarly, good webpages should be clean, clear and communicate effectively. No one wants to waste their time or spend extra energy “figuring things out”. Everyone wants everything the easy way (that’s a big problem in our society but a discussion for a different day lol).
Research shows that good headings, subheadings and short, clean and clear paragraphs are best at guiding your visitor through the webpage. Remember, your visitors don’t really read everything; they more likely browse or skim your webpage until they find what they want.
When you try to do too much in terms of design, color combinations and convolute your webpage wit all kinds of pictures and graphics, your message is often lost and you end up not communicating with your visitor. They leave as a result. When they leave, search engines take note of this and take away points from your search engine rankings.
Designing a Webpage for Your Visitor’s EyesHow do you read webpages? How do you read books? Or anything else? If you are a native English speaker/writer, you are probably inclined to read left to right and top to bottom right? (there are translated webpages for speakers of other languages) This is just how we read.
So as you read something your eyes get comfortable because 1) you know what to expect and 2) there is good information that makes you want to keep reading. What happens when the info turns sour? Or the web designer decides to switch up the font sizes and colors on you? What about moving text? Do your eyes like it?
Keep it simple friends. Clear to read text, black color, white background or something similar is critical in communicating your message. Do not freak out your reader! The more uniform your webpages look, the more comfortable your visitor will feel. I mean won’t you if you knew exactly what to expect as a new visitor?
Friends I had a local dry cleaning business once. When I bought the business it had a beautifully designed overhead sign that had all kinds of fancy lights and images. My cleaners’ name was embedded in this sign.
Just a year after owning it I hired a company to make me a big simple sign that spelled “CLEANERS” in read text (I had a grey overhead wall background). Guess what? Business boomed over night. People would come in and say “oh, I never knew you guys were here”. The example might be far fetched from designing a webpage, but you see how simplicity can lead to better communication?
Many of the problems in designing a webpage can be solved if you only think of yourself as the visitor of your website. You need to see webpages with the eyes of your reader.
Designing a Webpage vs. PaintingFriends if you were interested in painting, this is not the right place for you. This discussion stresses the fact that your webpages are meant to communicate clearly to your visitor and not impress them with your paintbrush (or mouse handling) skills.
I am not saying not to beautify your webpages. You should. You must. But do it in moderation and most importantly make sure your design fits your content and not the other way around. Your content must be focused on your website concept. Your design must be focused on your content.
Create a wheel and keep making it go round and round as you create more webpages. This is a great recipe to your website’s success on the Internet.
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