html, css, jQuery, PHP, mySQL
This is a must-read eBook for web designers everywhere. I keep hearing Ben’s voice in my head as I code: if in doubt, take it out. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Don’t waste space on unnecessary details!
I had already noticed how quickly borders and other fancy tricks eat up valuable screen real estate. Ben Hunt takes this further and points out that cluttered and confusing designs are harder to read, and confuse readers. Everything online needs to be tailored to an attention span measured in microseconds – one click and they will surf away elsewhere to find something better. Anything which confuses them even slightly can be the difference between someone staying on the site – and maybe making a purchase or reading an interesting blog post – and a dead-end website where nobody stays for longer than the time it takes to click the back button.
Ben emphasises the importance of “white space” in a design for readability: less is more. Other tips include keeping bright colours and other attention-grabbers for the content which you wish to be most prominent – such as a heading, a call to action, or the main content area – rather than distracting people with a colourful surround screaming for attention. Calls to action should be discreetly located – after the content which will pique the interest of the visitor and encourage them to buy. Don’t get pushy – prominent “buy now” buttons near the top of the page, or permanently in view, can seem garish and tacky, and undermine the company’s perceived credibility.
As for text, Ben Hunt has some interesting tips. Reduce the word count and length of sentences – if you can think of a shorter way of saying “Buy My Fantastic Widget” you should! In fact, he goes so far as to suggest that if there is a shorter way of saying something, it is always better. He also advises not only concentrating on positives, but avoiding words which even have an opposite which is a negative. The logic is that you should not raise the question in someone’s mind. Why would a reputable hosting company be advertising themselves as “reliable”? Surely any hosting company should be reliable – so this raises a worry for the consumer which may not otherwise have entered their mind. In practice, it’s quite hard to think of positives without negative opposites!
It’s not a huge book, it’s a quick read illustrated throughout with examples to illustrate all of the points. If you haven’t got a copy of this eBook yet, you certainly should. I may not be managing to put much of it into practice, but there are so many good little tips to help while working on a design that I imagine it will soon become second nature to follow many of his guidelines.
The one I like the most? If you find yourself staring at your design and not doing much, it’s time for a break!
Tags: attention grabbers, attention span, books, borders, bright colours, colour, colourful, content area, credibility, design, fancy tricks, heading, microseconds, sentences, unnecessary details, useability, waste space, web designers, white space, widget, word count
This entry was posted on Saturday, March 19th, 2011 at 11:25 pm and is filed under books, web design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.