Date:January 21, 2013

Web Design

So many companies waste a ridiculous amount of time, effort and money in having certain photographs included in their websites, not realising what is really important in website development.

In a major study, the Nielsen Norman Group ran a battery of website usability studies using eye-tracking technology.

While the subjects were engaged in various tasks, hidden infrared cameras monitored their eye movements to see what they looked at and where their gaze was fixed.

From the data, the researchers drew “heat maps” showing the parts of each Web page looked at the most.

In every case, statistically significant patterns emerged to reveal the following:

  • Banners and ads are ignored. People almost never pay attention to anything that looks like an advertisement, whether or not it actually is one.
  • Images are ignored. Images receive similar scant attention fixations, with the exception of faces and “cleavage and other ‘private’ body parts.”
  • Text is universally “interesting.” What all the study participants fixated on was plain text or written content.

Website design does matter… but probably less than you think. And a lot less than your website designer thinks (or would like to bill you for).

Almost all the websites and e-mail promotions that took Agora Inc., to its first $100 million in online sales were about as un-designed as you could imagine.
They were mainly all text and headlines.

In fact, Agora’s websites looked – and still look very similar to the longer direct-mail sales letters you receive in the mail.

According to many Web designers, these sites shouldn’t work any more than a bumblebee should be able to fly (because it breaks every rule of aerodynamics). But fly it does.

It is important for Web site designers to realise that people are looking for information, facts, or advice. And they want a website that gets that job done.

Recognise the power of words. If you’re considering placing a photo or other graphic on your site, ask yourself whether, instead, there is a way to express what you’re trying to communicate with words.

Research and experience bears out that this will probably produce a better result.

What Does Matter?

Most website critiques focus on the look and feel of the site, its visual design and layout. But what matters primarily for most websites and to most people is text.
For this, there are a number of guidelines you can adopt:

  • Make it easy to skim-read your web pages. Online, people skim-read and scan for information. So break up your Web content with logical headings and subheadings. Use bullet points to break up paragraphs, and use bold type to make important words stand out.
  • The first two paragraphs on any Web page should state the most important information in an easy-to-grasp way. If a site visitor reads those two paragraphs, there’s a better chance they’ll continue reading the rest of the page.
  • Begin with useful information. Beginning page titles, headings, subheads, paragraphs, and bullet points with information-carrying words will help your site visitors as they skim-read. People generally notice the first words of any block of text more than the later words. Make it simple for people to find what they need.

Creating content-rich rather than image-heavy websites is still unfashionable. Many designers still treat the Web with graphical embellishments – which often end up being largely ignored.

The design should support the content rather than overwhelm it. When it comes to your website, content is king.

Search engines love it – and your site visitors will too.

 

See below some websites we have designed:

Tristar Water Solutions
www.tristarwater.com.au

WAFTA
www.wafta.com.au 

Dinner Party With Ease
www.dinnerpartywithease.com 

AskAnita
www.askanita.com.au 

Content is crucial on a website. Websites should be interesting and useful to people who visit a site seeking information.  We believe a website that simply toots your own horn without providing people with information they’re seeking has little value.

We write and design websites and in doing so encourage clients to have a Content Management Site so they can easily upload additional material to their sites rather than having to call on IT providers to upload it for them.

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