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Web inSite Journal

Right Point Web Index

Effective Web Design -

Web Design Dos

Many authors attempt to list Web design dos and don’t.  On this page we will consider those Web dos that are not always obvious, sometimes controversial and oftentimes are not followed by even good sites.

It is appropriate to say that effective web design is not a matter of following dos and don’ts.  It is a matter of success.  If a site is successful and breaks all the rules, then it is still effective.  There are many ineffective sites that follow conventions to the letter.   Therefore, effectiveness is a measure of success, not an opinion.

Web Design Dos

White Space:  Nothing is Sometimes Better than Something

October 7, 2008  

This was a very important concept in print communication in the past.  It has now gone the way of the dinosaur as print publications attempt to copy the page design of the Web to fit more and more on a single page.



Get with it people! 
White space can be good. 



White space can direct the eye of the reader to the spot you want them to read.  It can be a powerful design element that can give a page a sense of balance and priority. It’s also a lot easier on the eyes.   White space doesn’t need to be white.  It just needs to be devoid of text and graphics.

Black space is just as good as white space.  I like dark blue space.


Keep It Simple? Don't Make Them Think.

August 25, 2008

What do first time visitors to a Website think?  Hopefully, they don’t.  At least they shouldn’t have to think as much as most people need to think at other times. The first time visitor to a site usually scans the site to find something they’re looking for.  If they don’t find something they’re looking for, then they might be attracted by impulse to click on something else or leave the site, hence to surf from one page to another.

Some visitors are searchers others are surfers.  Those with a mission to find something in particular are searchers. Those who are browsing or shopping are surfers ― somewhat analogous to the hunter-gatherers.  I contend that many more searchers are men and many more surfers are women. Men search for something, then kill it or capture it, bring it home and then eat it.  Women are more likely to surf from one site to another, gathering information as they move along, then going back to a site they visited earlier and buy something – usually something to wear. Searchers can become surfers after they’ve already eaten.

So, visitors may be of different types and they may look at pages differently. In either case they tend to scan the page looking for graphics or headings that will tell them they are in the right place.  They will not usually read things linearly until they are sure they are in the right place. That’s why good content will usually win out over good design and is generally the reason why some poorly designed sites still have good rankings.  The more people are forced to think, the more likely they will leave a site.

The moral of the story is to Keep It Simple Stupid. (KISS)


Design Web Sites That Are Intuitive

August 14, 2008

Have you ever come upon a new site that looks great and where navigation is easy, but it doesn’t look like all the others? Great Web Design is intuitive. Creating great Web sites that are intuitive usually isn’t something that can be taught.  It is usually the difference between a great designer and a good designer, though.

People are creative in different ways and some people are more creative than others, but when good creativity doesn’t interfere with the overall objectives, then something special happens.

So, the goal is to construct sites that are intuitive first, then creative. That’s when that something special happens.  Not all designers can do it, and not all users will understand things that are intuitive to most others.  Don’t worry about those people who don’t get it, but be respectful of their problems.

Intuitive Web design is a goal that is very difficult to attain when you’re trying to be original.  The first web sites weren’t intuitive to anyone.  Intuitiveness came after standards were established and conventions were accepted. How can you tell if the site works well?  Get people to test it. One person testing is hugely better than no people testing. If possible, watch how people use the site.  Do they get frustrated, or do they jump around trying to find something?  The larger the site the harder it is to maintain usability.  It is almost impossible for the designer or developer to test the site that they’ve built.  They are too close to it.  After working on it for days, weeks or even months, they no longer see what’s there.  They see what they want to be there.

The methods for the design of great Web sites are not intuitive.  They are learned.



William Szczepanek, Right Point Web, LLC.