Effective web design isn’t just about page functionality -although this is extremely important too it’s also about ergonomics and clarity for site visitors. These are very important parts of quality web design that sometimes get ignored by programmers who are too busy trying to make sure that everything on the pages works properly and all the links and buttons connect to where they’re supposed to.
On the web, if you irritate a reader in any way, shape or form, especially with easily avoidable things like bad design, you’ll almost certainly lose them just like that. Here are some of the crucial features of viewer friendly design that a website should incorporate if it doesn’t want to get a visitors eyes aching, head hurting and their attention span wandering away to something else.
Put the Important Stuff where the Eyeballs Fall
Numerous studies have shown that typical viewer eye movements cover a web page in a vague F pattern within the first few seconds of landing on it. This means that if you were to track what parts of a web page get looked at most with a heat map (just how it gets done via infographics) you’d have a large reddish blob at the top left corner of the main text area in the middle of the page, slowly diminishing as you move down the page, and a series of horizontal tendrils fading away towards the right. This is F pattern is basically how we quickly check to see if something is worth reading further.
What this also means for site design is that anything important you’ve got to say or show should go right in the biggest red areas of your website. Don’t hide that stuff, put it where the vast majority of visitors look in those few seconds they use to decide if they should click away or stay.
Consistent, Clear and Intuitive Layout
Again, numerous studies have shown that most people prefer to look at dark text overlaying a light background. Stick to this idea and keep it the same throughout your website, tasteful simplicity is naturally attractive and if there’s no reason to play with different looks, don’t bother with it. Also, keep the site layout intuitive. This means that you should put any buttons and other icons or links wherever most sites put them, especially well-known websites that get visited by millions or even billions of people. Customers and visitors like finding anything they want to click on in the same place they usually find it everywhere else. Just this basic thing will increase clicks while saving your visitors time and frustration.
Simple, Clean Page Layout
Another crucial factor in having a website that viewers like is its cleanliness. By this we’re talking about a web page that isn’t completely cluttered with unnecessary garbage and items that just distract from whatever its main point is. A website should have a neatly spaced design that includes only the necessary features and naturally guides the reader through the page in a logical sequence that’s easy to understand and fits a purpose.
We’ve already mentioned the importance of placing content where people spend the most time examining your web page, and the importance of well sized text of the right color (dark against light background), but let’s go over that last point again before moving on to a couple more about text; do not use reverse type on your web pages! Light colored text contrasting against a dark background is extremely annoying on the eyes.
That aside, in order to not annoy readers, your page content should also be written as clearly as possible and laid out in small, easy to digest blocks of text that are written in clear, simple and large fonts. These blocks should also be spaced apart by sub-headers if possible.
Featured image: CC Attribution photo by Serge Kij on Flickr - source
Article by Mary
When Mary isn’t busy reviewing marketing resources sweeptakes in and around the Chicagoland area, she is covering a wide range of marketing topics to keep her readers happy and informed! Outside of work, she is an avid reader and enjoys spending time on the lakefront!