1. KEEP IT SIMPLE
While Java and Shockwave animations may look neat, they rarely
increase your marketing results. More often than not, they will
distract your visitors from your marketing message, or even
crash your visitors' computers.
Many of your visitors won't have the necessary plug-ins needed
to view these animations.
Perhaps in a few years Internet technology will make the use of
these animation techniques more accessible to your visitors.
Until then, you are much better off keeping your Web site simple
and focusing on your marketing strategy and your content.
2. MAKE IT EASY TO READ
If content is king, then easy reading is queen. If trying to
read the information on your Web site is difficult in any way,
the majority of your visitors will leave and not come back.
Don't put your words on dark or black backgrounds--the Star Wars
effect. It's very difficult to read.
Don't put your words on patterned backgrounds, even if the
pattern is very simple. Anything behind your words will be
distracting and make your copy difficult to read.
Use black or very dark text on plain white backgrounds for the
bulk of your text on your Web site. People are used to reading
black type on white paper.
Don't use fancy fonts. Many of your visitors have limited or
different fonts on their computers. Their computer will then
simply replace your fancy font with something totally different.
You'll never know what your visitors are seeing with the
Use Times Roman, Helvetica or Arial for your fonts because these
fonts are available on everyone's computer. By sticking to these
basic fonts you will be safe in assuming that your visitors are
seeing what you created.
Use ALL CAPS very sparingly. It's okay to use all caps for a
short headline or subhead here and there, but don't overdo it.
ALL CAPS is like yelling or DECLARING WAR!! You especially don't
want to set an entire paragraph in all caps or you will
definitely repel your visitors.
Create a consistent format for your fonts. Use one font and size
for your major page titles, one for your subheads, and one for
the body text of your articles.
Create standard and consistent links. Links should be blue and
underlined whenever possible. Be careful not to underline other
phrases that are not links, because your visitors will think
they are links and get very frustrated clicking on them.
Keep it simple. Keep it consistent.
3. KEEP YOUR LINE LENGTHS SHORT FOR EASY READING
Pick up your local newspaper or a national magazine and look at
the articles printed in them. Notice how narrow the columns are.
They are designed like that for a purpose.
Narrow copy is much easier for people to read than long lines.
For one, people can absorb a very short line of copy much more
easily than a long one that they must break down mentally into
Plus, when your copy lines are long, people often have a more
difficult time finding the beginning of the next line.
If you keep your copy lines short, no more than 85 characters,
you will make it much easier for your visitors to read your
Long lines repel. Short lines attract.
4. KEEP YOUR PARAGRAPHS SHORT
Nothing is more repellant to a Web surfer than a solid block of
text that is 20-40 lines long. Ugh! It's like reading a legal
If you want your readers to keep reading your copy, then you
have to make it as easy and as inviting as possible for them.
Keep your lines short, and keep your paragraphs to 5-6 lines
each. The shorter, the better.
5. USE SUB-HEADS TO BREAK UP YOUR PARAGRAPHS
You can also make your copy more appealing to your visitors, by
breaking up your paragraphs with bold sub- heads that describe
the next section. It relieves the monotony, plus it helps them
to understand what is coming up next.
You can also use bulleted lists to make it easy to see listed
6. MAKE YOUR PAGES LOAD FAST
Your visitors aren't going to wait forever for your neat
animation or graphics to load. Keep your graphics small and use
them sparingly. The faster your Web page loads the fewer
visitors you will lose. You want to keep your loading time under
20 seconds. Focus on content not graphics.
7. TELL YOUR VISITORS WHAT TO DO
Too many Web site owners mistakenly believe that everyone
surfing the Web is an Internet expert. They are not. They don't
know much about navigation, or Java, or forms, etc.
If you want someone to click on a link, then make it look like a
standard link by making the font blue and underlined.
Even then you may have to actually tell your visitors to Click
Here. It may seem redundant, but we have found by testing that
more people will click if you tell them specifically what you
want them to do.
8. DESIGN YOUR PAGE FOR A 600 PIXEL WIDTH
It's a big pet peeve of ours and we know that many Web site
visitors hate it too. We're talking about creating your Web
pages wider than 600 pixels.
A Web page that is designed wider than 600 pixels may look great
on YOUR computer, but there's a good chance that your visitors
have to scroll their screens left and right to see your pages.
If they do, most will leave.
Keep in mind, also, that many people surf the web with their
windows minimized, which means that they will see even less of
By designing your pages specifically for a 600 pixel width, you
will overcome 90% of this problem, and your visitors will have
no reason to leave because of frustrating scrolling back and
9. DESIGN YOUR PAGE FOR 800 RESOLUTION
You may have a super, high resolution computer where 1024
resolution or higher looks great. You may also have perfect
vision and have no problem reading the teeny, tiny type that
higher resolutions produce, but many of your visitors won't have
their monitors set to the higher resolution, and many can't or
won't try to read tiny type on Web sites.
Most people at this point have their monitors set to 800
resolution. You can't get them to change their monitor settings
to accommodate your particular Web pages by saying, "This site
is best viewed at 1024 resolution. Please reset your monitor for
that resolution." No one is going to do that for you. They will
just leave your site.
You want to create your Web site so that it will be easily read
by the majority of your visitors. In the future this may change,
but for now the majority says 800 resolution.
10. ORGANIZE YOUR WEB SITE
It's important that your Web site visitors feel comfortable
navigating throughout your Web site.
Think about a book. Imagine if there were no table of contents,
no chapters, no division by subject matter, just a hodgepodge of
paragraphs and pages. Not many people would go through the
frustration and trouble to read it.
Most books are broken down into logical sections or chapters so
that the readers can find what they are looking for quickly and
Your Web site should be organized the same way.
Break down your information into logical sections or departments.
We have a department for articles, one for tutorials, one for
motivation quotations and stories, one for checklists, one for
our store, etc.
Once you click on one of our department links, you will go to an
index page for that department.
Plus, we put all of the links to our departments on every page
of our Web site, so that our visitors can get to any other
department with one click of the mouse.
If possible, put a Site Map page on your Web site. This page
will show your visitors all of your departments and all of the
pages within each department all on one page. It can be
formatted as a simple outline.
Make it easy for your visitors to find what they want on your
Web site and they will stay longer and come back more often.
11. ORGANIZE YOUR WEB PAGES
It's important for you to establish a simple and consistent
format for the pages of your Web site.
Nothing looks more unprofessional than a mish mash of different
looking pages on a Web site. Don't use a two column format on
some of your pages and a three or four column format on others.
Create a consistent format for your pages and then stick to it.
You should use a consistent layout for your pages. If you want
to put your links to your other pages in a left or right hand
column, then do that for all of your pages. If you want to put a
title at the top of each page, then select a font, color and
size for those titles and use them for all of your pages.
While variety may be the spice of life, consistency is the glue
that holds your Web site together. Use variety in your content
and your ideas, but inconsistency in formats destroys trust and
comfort in your visitors.
Pick up a few books and look at how the chapters are laid out.
You will find a logical, and consistent layout, fonts, graphics
etc. throughout most professional books.
About the author:
Joe Gracia - Give to Get Marketing