A balanced web design

It’s easy to make a web page look too busy or too plain. To make a good well balanced page, there is a degree of common sense to keep in mind, but also an eye for design.

Important things to know!

  • Your average user is going to skim over the page looking for something, they are not going to read everything on the page before clicking another page or bouncing back out to Google.
  • People don’t like to think when they are surfing the web. If they have to struggle to find something because of its colour, size, or position, then this is not a successful design. No matter how “good” you think the page looks.
  • You have a matter of seconds to hold someone’s attention before they give up and look somewhere else. You are competing for their time and attention.Think about it, how big is the web? Who wants to read about things that aren’t relevant to them? How many other pages exist that probably have the same or similar information?

Use some effects, sometimes.

Don’t think you can supercharge your design by adding drop shadows, gradients, text shadows and animations. A good design will consist of a balanced amount of these.

For example, don’t make body copy looks too small, don’t put red body copy onto a black background, don’t make the nav tiny or put it where they don’t expect it, I could go on and on!

Personally I prefer not to use any kind of animations in things like the navigation. This functionality should be quick and zippy, never sluggish or delayed. Animations are ideal for image galleries or similar, but I think they can otherwise be a distraction.

Don’t emphasise everything!

It often ruins the pages of good looking websites, and it confused readers. That’s right, the content can ruin a good design, and it not unusual for the client to do this naturally in an effort to make themselves heard.

Sure, I want people to read the whole page, but I know in reality they will read what they are looking for. It is tempting to make all of it emphasised, but it just looks absolutely terrible.

Here are some of the content issues to avoid:

  • #1 Keep it simple
  • Text alignment: Leave it left justified, there are very few reason to center, justify or right align.
  • Colouring: Don’t pick your own colours to make something stand out, because your theme is probably built around a 2-4 colours. Stick with only using bold, nice and simple.
  • Underline: Don’t use it ever. Leave it alone, links are underlined. You will only confuse people.
  • Italic: Use it sometimes on a word or short chunk or words you want to emphasise. Also good if you are quoting. But if that’s the case, try using the blockquote tag which is more meant for this.
  • Headings: Use them sparingly, don’t overdo it. They are supposed to indicate what the following content has, they aren’t meant for making a paragraph look bigger & better.
  • Paragraphs: Break up paragraphs, don’t make then too long or people will feel a bit daunted by the size of the chunk, and are thus less likely to read it.

Layout

Put important things up the top or the left, where the eye often goes to. Such as contact phone number, business name, navigation. They might “look” nice in other places, but people will be looking where they expect to see these things.

Spread out the content. Be are careful not to attempt to make everything easily found by cramming your content into your columns, header and footer. Space things out, put the important information first, let the page breath.