The Importance of a Clean Web Layout
When designing a website, it's important to encourage folks who find you on the net to stay on your page and browse for a while. The longer you can keep people at your site, the greater your chance of making a sale. There is probably nothing that will drive visitors away faster than a cluttered, busy-looking, poorly organized site. Here are some tips that should help you produce a clean, concise, and attractive web presence that will keep your customers engaged and wanting more.
Â· Be Sure That Each Page of Your Site Offers Something Useful
This point doesn't relate as much to design as it does to content. But, it is foolish to think that you can keep customers on a page that doesn't have any real information; no matter how pretty it looks. You need to provide something that is interesting or valuable for your visitors, first, before you figure out how to make it look nice, so concentrate on that. (Find out how to improve Text Readability here.)
If your business plan includes making money from advertising, be sure that you balance the ads with plenty of actual content. You would never pick up a magazine if all the pages were ads, and people won't stay at your site unless they find something besides sales pitches. Try not to devote more than about one fourth of your page to ads.
Â· Give Every Page of Your Site a Focal Point
Try to put one thing on each of your pages that quickly tells your visitors what they will find there. It can be a graphic, a headline, or a photograph, but it should convey the general topic of the page almost instantly. Once you have the focus in place be sure you don't distract from it by crowding too many other elements around it. Let it stand alone and get its message across.
Be sure to put your most important information at the top of your site. Just as a newspaper puts the most vital facts in its headline, you should not make your readers hunt for the things they will want to know.
Â· Don't Irritate Your Visitors With Tacky Elements
Hardly anyone enjoys pop-up windows when they are surfing the net, so it's a mystery why so many site designers insist on using them. Studies on marketing indicate that pop-ups can actually deter people from coming back to your site, and rarely lead to an increase in sales or click-throughs.
The same thing can be said of animations, auto-loading sounds, and scrolling banners. It is almost impossible for people to concentrate on reading your content when things are blinking, beeping, or fluttering in their eyes. Even though you might think that animation would draw the attention of your visitors, research indicates that many Internet users will actually click away from such things immediately without doing any more investigation.
You should also be mindful that people who have slow connections will be disgusted if you force them to wait while lots of large-file graphics and sounds are loading. They just want to see the content, without having to spend hours getting there. (Learn more about Special Effects here.)
Â· Use Crisp Lines
Special effects like shadows, blurring, glows, and fading may be useful for some purposes but they tend to make a website look fuzzy and crowded. It is best to stick to sharp, clearly defined lines to get the clean look you are after.
The font you choose should also be crisp and easy to read. Nothing can clutter up a site like some clunky type style that makes things look amateurish and unprofessional.
Â· Use Plenty of White Space
Be sure that the different elements on your web page don't look like they are fighting with each other for the reader's attention. That can be most easily accomplished by using enough open space around each text box, navigation bar, or graphic so that it is distinct from its neighbors. You don't have to have tons of white space, but use enough to make a nice border or gutter for each piece.
In conclusion, remember to consider your customer when choosing the design elements you add to your site. Don't be afraid to experiment with different looks, and pay attention to other websites that offer products similar to yours. When you find a site that pulls you in and makes you want to stay awhile, look carefully at how it is designed. With a little practice you can produce clean, inviting web pages that will help your bottom line.
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