1. Because information gathering drives user behavior on the
web, easy to read navigation ensures visitors are getting the
most out of your site. Resist the urge to use fancy graphics
or wacky fonts for your primary navigation. And keep the
number of primary nav buttons down to seven or eight--anything
more is simply overwhelming and clunky, especially on a home
page. If your site contains various subcategories and sub
pages, use flyouts or dropdown menus where appropriate.
2. People read differently on the web than they do print.
While your local newspaper is probably written in a "serif"
font (e.g. Times New Roman), reading print on a monitor is
much easier if it is written in a "sans serif" font (e.g.
Arial). Serifs are simply the extra little bits of type that
hang or dangle from the ends of printed letters. On paper,
serifs lead the eye smoothly from one letter to the next. This
is why most headlines in print are in sans serif as these
visually jolt the eye and ask us to take notice.
3. One of the most poorly executed aspects of web design is
color. A nasty color scheme is usually the result of too many
colors being used at once and/or the designer did not conduct
browser testing (not all colors are "web safe"). All colors
are "complimented" by other colors (and often insulted by
others). Go to your local craft or paint store and pick up a
color wheel for about ten bucks. On the color wheel you will
find countless suggestions for attractive looking color
schemes, many of which you had not thought of. Or, check out
www.colorschemer.com/online.html. The main thing is to keep
your website's color scheme simple, no more than three for
sure with the third color used very sparingly as an accent.
4. Your website will automatically be more visually
pleasing to its visitors if your chosen color scheme speaks to
the needs and perceptions of your target market. For example,
a more conservative audience will appreciate muted or
traditional color themes while a trend-oriented or
entrepreneurial audience might enjoy colors that are bold and
crisp. While there remains debate around the true impact of
color on our moods and perceptions, one cannot deny its impact
when used judiciously on the web. Here is a great rundown of
the alleged effects of color:
5. Keep an eye on margins and text justification. Nothing
screams "amateur" like a webmaster that has neglected the
details. Make sure text does not appear squished up against
borders and graphics and left justify large blocks of text for
readability. Also be generous with white space around text and
graphics, imparting a more organized, intentional feel to your
pages. If you have a lot of important information to convey
about a particular topic, "more info" links or printer
friendly pages are a nice touch.
6. Tempting as it may be to go overboard, be judicious with
your use of graphics, photos, and other multimedia. Remember,
for most business sites, the overarching purpose is to provide
useful information; graphics must compliment this purpose, not
drown it out.
Implementing the above suggestions is relatively easy and
quick to do, even if you are not a web design professional.
And your hard earned traffic will no doubt appreciate the
added effort and polish when they arrive at your site.
Karri Flatla is a business graduate of the University of
Lethbridge and principal of snap! virtual assistance inc., a
small business consulting firm providing business
communications and online marketing services to solo
professionals. Karri also produces Outsmart, the email
newsletter for small business with big purpose. Visit
for more information.