Design principles that work great on paper should work just as well on your website right?
Unfortunately, nope. Over the years, researchers have studied how people view web pages to find what they’re looking for – and what works on a printed poster doesn’t work nearly as well on a small business web page!
If people can’t find what they’re looking for on your site, you could lose sales. Below you’ll find our top “No-Nos” for laying out your site.
1. Don’t align your text down the middle
Researchers have found that pages with a lot of text on them tend to be read in an F-shape pattern, as indicated by the heatmap below. The more colorful areas indicate where the visitors eyes looked at the most.
With that in mind, you’ll want to place your most important content where their eyes will be searching: in the headline and along the left.
NOTE: In languages that are read right to left, reverse the pattern.
2. Don’t use fancy fonts
No matter how beautiful that handwritten font is, if your visitor can’t make out the letters, you’re not going to want to use it.
It’s also important to keep in mind that every computer isn’t equipped with the same fonts, so if you use a non-standard font on your site it might not look the same on your visitor’s computer.
Ideally, try to stick to web-standard fonts like Arial, Helvetica, or Verdana (just to name a few).
3. Don’t use tiny fonts
The last thing you want to do is make someone squint to read your website.
They’ll end up with a headache and an overall negative experience – something that’s probably not going to result in a sale.
Try keeping your font upwards of 12pts, and if your website caters to an older crowd you may want to keep the font closer to 14pt.
4. Don’t stretch your text across the entire width of the page
Research has found that long lines of text can slow down reading speed considerably. If you’ve ever tried to read a page where sentences stretch across the whole browser, you probably noticed that it’s pretty easy to lose your place.
Not only are shorter line lengths easier to read, but people also find them less intimidating. Try limiting the width of your content to around 365 pixels.
5. Don’t write huge, blocky paragraphs
On a web page, white space is your friend. It makes the page look cleaner, less intimidating, and it allows your visitor to find what they’re looking for more easily. With that in mind, make sure to break up your paragraphs into shorter, easier bites.
If you have a list buried in a paragraph, break it into bullets or a numbered list. If there’s something that’s better represented by a graph or image, use one!
Try to limit your paragraphs to 3-5 sentences each.
6. Don’t use crazy colors for text
Your text should always be a very different color from your background, and neither should be too bright or intense.
The easiest text to read is black on white, but as long as you stay within the realm of that kind of contrast, a little variation doesn’t hurt too much – as long as you’re not asking them to read an essay!
Your visitor should never have to feel like they’re digging to find the information they’re looking for – nor should they leave your site because it hurts their eyes.
By sticking to the above rules, you not only help them find what they’re looking for, but you also increase your chances of making a sale!