Archive for June, 2010

Making a Website that will Endure

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

There are a few basic things that are coming to the fore in the web design world right now. Large headers that contain flash and/or photo slideshows are becoming very popular, there has been a movement toward minimalism, or the idea that the main page of a site shouldn’t have too much on it, and the use of interactive information boxes is picking up for some examples. But whatever the current trends are, they will never become the heart and soul of a webpage. In order to recognize a well designed page the viewer must be aware of a few principles: a page should satisfy the viewer’s desire for aesthetic beauty, form follows function, and design supports content. Following these principles will give a good impression to viewers and help a website endure the test of time.

Behind the beauty of any page is the consideration of the aesthetic and psychological needs of the viewer. A page is designed to give off certain emotions and satisfactions based on the intention of the designer. This is done through the use of color, texture (the feel or look of the surface), architecture (page layout), and typography (interplay of fonts and text on a page). By controlling the colors, textures, layout and placement of items, and the use of lettering on a page, a designer can guide the eye around a page and give emphasis to certain parts.

While a designer is coming up with the aesthetics of a page, he or she must keep in mind what Louis Sullivan once said, “Form follows function”. This means that the one thing of ultimate importance to a webpage is its functionality. If a website isn’t easy to use and navigate, then it doesn’t matter how pretty it looks. One mistake that is sometimes made is adding too much to a page. When too much is on a page, it creates clutter and takes away from any single effect.

Finally all the bricks of a webpage’s foundation must support the content of the page. The content of a page, or what it is saying, the text and message, is the most important part of any page. Everything on a page should be ordered to delivering the page’s message in a particular way, while at the same time never taking anything away from that message.

“Good art stands alone. Good design supports content.”

-    Matt Ward, Echo Enduring Media.

With beauty, functionality, and content cemented on a page a designer can feel free to follow the latest trends without fear of taking away from the purpose of their pages. Trends will come and go, but the foundation of a page must always remain. Building and keeping the foundation will attract and impress your viewers, and help your site endure the test of time.

How to Write Website Content That Works

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Write relevant content
It may be tempting to write about your brother’s dog, but if it doesn’t relate to your site or page topic, leave it out. Web readers want information, and unless the page is information about said dog, they really won’t care, even if it is a good metaphor for what you’re trying to say.

Put conclusions at the beginning
Think of an inverted pyramid when you write. Get to the point in the first paragraph, then expand upon it.

Write only one idea per paragraph
Web pages need to be concise and to-the-point. People don’t read Web pages, they scan them, so having short, meaty paragraphs is better than long rambling ones.

Use action words
Tell your readers what to do. Avoid the passive voice. Keep the flow of your pages moving.

Format
Use lists instead of paragraphs. Lists are easier to scan than paragraphs, especially if you keep them short.

Limit list items to 7 words

Studies have shown that people can only reliably remember 7-10 things at a time. By keeping your list items short, it helps your readers remember them.

Write short sentences
Sentences should be as concise as you can make them. Use only the words you need to get the essential information across.

Include internal sub-headings
Sub-headings make the text more scannable. Your readers will move to the section of the document that is most useful for them, and internal cues make it easier for them to do this.

Make your links part of the copy
Links are another way Web readers scan pages. They stand out from normal text, and provide more cues as to what the page is about.

Always Always Always Proofread your work
Typos and spelling errors will send people away from your pages. Make sure you proofread everything you post to the Web.

Images
Avoid uploading high resolution images as your page will take longer to load. Resize your graphics or images BEFORE uploading them to your website.

Font Styles
Be consistent. Do not use twelve different font styles and blazing colors for your text. It will make your page look everything but professional.