Less is More: What Makes a Great Website
This is a subject that I’ve been wanting to bring up for a while now. What pushed me to discuss this is the “Swipe” theme in WordPress. It really gets on my nerves. And after I swipe, it loads many thumbnails that confuse, overwhelm and ultimately make me forget what I was looking for. Why can’t all these posts be clearly organized in an easier way? I hate that I can’t easily comment and have to find and click on the comments (as oppose to them coming right under the post.) For all my dear fellow bloggers who are using this theme, I apologize, but I couldn’t help it. In order to enjoy your posts I always have to click on the “view standard site” button.
So what makes a great website? Of course the answer is long and complicated, but here are a few guidelines that will help you get started.
1. You need to decide on the purpose of your website. If it is to showcase work then you need to display your pictures in an attractive layout. Avoid overwhelming your visitors by so much to look at on your homepage. Think about your homepage as your front door, you can’t display everything on there, but it needs to be attractive enough to get people in.
2. If you have information to share, make sure that it is displayed in clear type and accessed easily. That means that you should avoid using a “fancy” script font. Doing so does not mean your website will look fancy. It will just be hard to read. Typically, using 2 fonts -a serif and a sans serif- is ideal and more than enough.
3. When choosing your color scheme, try to choose contrasting colors for your text and background. This will ensure a comfortable view of the site. Also remember that while certain colors work together on paper or when you wear them, they might not work as well on the screen. You want your visitors to browse through your site without getting a headache.
4. People are busy. They don’t typically want to wait for a few minutes while a website is loading. Personally, if I have to wait for more than 30 seconds I end up leaving that site and finding somewhere else. Avoid huge files. Compress videos and resize any images. Typically images for web view don’t need to be more than 72 dpi.
5. Unless you are advertising video or animation, skip the flash intro and anything running around the screen that will only slow down the process and distract your visitor. Get to the point. If I’m looking for a certain piece of information, I don’t want anything in between. And while you’re at it, avoid background music. It’s a major turnoff and does nothing but make me hit the mute button.
6. Make it easy. User friendliness is a major part of great web design. Being able to navigate using as few clicks as possible will bring you a happy visitor who is impressed with how quickly they were able to find the information they needed.
7. When doing all of the above, keep in mind your target audience, whether male or female, teenagers or adults, other designers or customers, or simply everyone. It helps to know who you’re trying to reach. That way it will be easier to figure out what works for them.
In summary, less is more. Many websites do have flash intros and fancy videos and that works for them. But in general, the average person does not need all that. You don’t necessarily need to use 20 colors, multiple layers, and fancy graphics to make a successful website. Most customers are in a hurry to find what they’re looking for and don’t want to work hard to get there. So just give it to them!