Looking at this page, what about it catches the eye? How do the elements guide your eye as you scan the screen? Do you start at the picture and title on the left, move down and towards the text in the center, and then eventually glance at the menus and/or advertisements on the right? Of course, my suggestions are probably doing more to guide your eyes than the actual page. But go look at other sites you often visit. When I did this, I noticed successful sites like Ebay or The New York Times follow this template, and I had never realized this before. So open a new tab, take in what’s on the page and pay special attention to how it’s set up. You’ll most likely find almost all popular sites follow this track.
Now, I did not set up my blog page like this on purpose. The overall format was a pre-made template I chose, and the text size is small by default. However, I did choose the put the link menus on the right and to keep the simple color scheme and design. So other standard site designs did influence how I wanted my blog to look. Most of the principles behind web design is common sense, really. A simple design that emphasizes the important content of the page; short, succinct paragraphs that get to the point quickly; and relevant links that take the viewer to other helpful articles or sites. After visiting miniusa.com as recommended by my textbook (Writing for Digital Media), I was very impressed with their design. The black background made the text and Mini Cooper graphics stand out; it is well organized, sophisticated, and visually pleasing. Also, notice no scrolling is necessary to view all the content. Obviously, too many elements are distracting and take away from the site’s important content. Visit lowpriceskates.com, and you’ll see how overwhelming color, large photos, and too much text can be. (For other examples of poor web design, check out Worst Websites of 2011.)
Overall, basic guidelines for web design are fairly obvious. The “less is more” principle, the eye movement from left to right, the short paragraphs composed of smaller text are all self-explanatory. However, at least in my experience, I had not thought of these aspects until they were clearly laid out. Now, it will be one of the first things I look for when I visit a web page.
Discussion Questions for COM 121
Did you visit the Habitat for Humanity site that the students at Berry College created (habitatrome.com)? What did you think of the design, is it successful? How does it look when compared to the Habitat for Humanity’s site for Greenville county (habitatgreenville.org)?
Will the statistics and guidelines about text and writing on the Web affect how you compose your future blog posts?