5 Important Website Writing Design Conventions

5 Important Website Writing Design Conventions

This article outlines the​ five most important conventions for writing and designing your webpages.

Your presentation is​ every bit as​ important as​ your content. the​ best content in​ the​ world won't ever be read if​ the​ presentation is​ so bad that nobody stays long enough to​ read it. if​ you maximize your website usability,​ your visitors stay longer,​ read more,​ and you make more sales.

If the​ purpose of​ your web site is​ to​ educate your readers and/or lead them to​ a​ specific action,​ (like buying something) then you should seriously consider following these design and writing conventions...

1. Start Each Page With Your Most Important Content.
2. Use Meaningful Link Text to​ Provide Information.
3. Write Scannable Pages.
4. Use Simple Website Designs.
5. Use Clear,​ Consistent Website Navigation.

1. Start Each Page With Your Most Important Content.
People are impatient; they will scan your page quickly and leave as​ soon as​ they get bored. Put your best,​ most important content near the​ top of​ the​ page.

Design your layout so that nothing pushes your most important content down past the​ "page fold". That is​ your "Prime Real Estate" -- don't waste it. Large logos,​ unnecessary graphics,​ ambiguous headlines.... all these things are a​ waste of​ your must valuable space.

Begin each page with a​ summary or​ a​ short list of​ page contents. Be specific,​ and place the​ newest items at​ the​ top of​ the​ list or​ in​ a​ "What's New" section.

2. Use Meaningful Link Text to​ Provide Information.
Web surfers decide in​ seconds whether or​ not your page is​ worth reading. When you use bland,​ content-neutral words for your link text,​ you miss an​ important opportunity to​ provide information. (Also - visually impaired web users often instruct their computer to​ read the​ link text aloud,​ "Click here" won't help them.)

The words used in​ your anchor text should suggest what the​ reader will find when they click on​ the​ link,​ and help them decide to​ click or​ not.
* Bad: to​ learn about icebergs,​ click here.
* Better: Icebergs
* Best: Where icebergs come from.

You can make your links even more informative by following them with a​ blurb:

Blurbs: Short Previews of​ Web Pages
A "Blurb" is​ a​ short paragraph that gives a​ preview of​ the​ page at​ the​ other end of​ a​ link. You are reading a​ blurb now. if​ a​ blurb helps a​ reader decide to​ click the​ link,​ then it​ works.

3. Write Scannable Pages.
Offline,​ books and magazine articles are designed for sequential reading: You start at​ the​ beginning and read to​ the​ end.

Online text is​ not necessarily sequential - it​ relies upon smaller chunks of​ text,​ which the​ reader often does not read in​ order. So each page of​ your website must make sense to​ a​ visitor who did not see the​ preceding page,​ or​ just arrived from a​ search engine.

Meaningful,​ informative headers & subheadings,​ bulleted lists,​ and bold keywords all help readers scan the​ page quickly and easily.

4. Use Simple Website Designs.
Your visitors didn't come to​ see your fancy graphics. They came to​ find information about prices or​ availability,​ they're looking for contact information or​ directions,​ or​ maybe they just want some technical details...

Unless your website is​ about cool graphic effects,​ I can guarantee that your visitors don't really care about your spinning logo or​ dancing unicorns,​ or​ even whether or​ not your menu buttons blink or​ change background images on​ a​ mouse-over.

Web-savvy visitors have 'trained' themselves to​ ignore ads. Anything that flashes,​ shimmers,​ blinks or​ dances around will not get the​ attention that it​ deserves.

The more such things you put on​ your page,​ the​ harder your reader will have to​ work in​ order to​ find what they want. Too much of​ that and they are gone,​ never to​ return. Use images wisely. Every image on​ your page slows it​ down,​ sometimes a​ little,​ sometimes a​ lot....
* Use smaller images whenever possible.
* For large collections of​ images,​ use an​ index with thumbnails that they can click if​ they want to​ see the​ image full-size.
* Use an​ image editor to​ reduce the​ file size of​ your images

See our "Using images in​ your webpages" section for more about all that ~ http://blt-web.com/web_design/using_images.html

5. Use clear,​ Consistent Website Navigation.
Next to​ pages that take forever to​ load (and pop-ups),​ the​ biggest complaint that surfers have is​ difficult to​ understand and/or inconsistent website navigation...
* Use the​ same menu on​ all your pages.
* Use a​ logical link hierarchy,​ with related items together.
* Be perfectly clear with your link titles & descriptions.
* Use text links whenever possible.
* if​ you must use image links,​ use the​ alt="link destination" element.

A website with more than ten or​ fifteen pages may not need a​ link from every page to​ every other page... you can link to​ each section from each page,​ but give each section its own "Table of​ Contents".

Every page should have a​ link to​ the​ home page and to​ the​ site map. (If you have less than ten pages,​ you may omit a​ site map,​ but your home page should have a​ text link to​ every page for search engines.)

See our "Menu Design Tips" page for more information ~ http://blt-web.com/web_design/menu_design.html

Following these 5 simple guidelines will help your website be a​ success. With faster-loading pages and easier-to-find information,​ people will read more of​ your content and are more likely to​ take the​ action that you want them to.

To Your Success!

Additional Reading:
http://www.smbtn.com/books/gb57.pdf ~ Writing and Editing Like a​ Pro Entrepreneurs Guidebook #57,​ from Small Business Town

http://www.useit.com/papers/webwriting/ ~ Writing for the​ Web,​ Research on​ how users read on​ the​ Web and how authors should write their Web pages.

http://www.sun.com/980713/webwriting/ ~ Writing for the​ Web,​ by Jakob Nielsen,​ distinguished engineer; PJ Schemenaur,​ technical editor; and Jonathan Fox,​ editor-in-chief,​ www.sun.com

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