In their faintest voice, I sometimes think I hear web pages screaming, “Yo, I’m not print!” As I witness its simplistic character being smothered by images, text, images, and more text, I suddenly want to reach into my monitor and redeem what was once glorious white space from it’s misery.
The bottom line – online users don’t want to try hard to find what they’re looking for. They expect clean pages accompanied with information arranged in a manner for easy consumption.
However, we (in all our content generating greatness) get uber excited and decide to crowd pages with images of today, yesterday, and tomorrow. Then we add a layer of text that has no value to the end user simply because it “sounded good.”
Once we put all this information on the page, we fail to organize it in a manner in which the user can easily digest.
Cluttered spaces create cluttered minds. Similarly, too much information leads to information overload. When this happens, users
- Become frustrated and leave
- Fail to make a decision and leave, or
- Complete their transaction. Then they leave (and avoid your site like the plague).
At any rate, the end user isn‘t happy, leaving unattained goals. (By the way, this makes room for the competition to come in and swoop up your customer – Prime examples: Google vs. Yahoo and Facebook vs. My Space.)
Begin with a goal in mind. Is there action you want your user to take or are you looking to simply present information?
Consider your medium. Facebook wall & Twitter are meant for super quick encounters (“wham, bam, thank you ma’am”), informational sites benefit from a delicate balance between text and images, blogs are generally text heavy, and search results are generally directional with limited information.
Remember white space is king. If there is an ample amount of white space on a page, the user will know that the part of the page with something on it is actually worth paying attention.
Don‘t be afraid to use links. While you don’t want users to go on a wild goose chase to reach their destination, remember links allow you to provide a great deal of information without initially overwhelming your users.
Befriend text formatting. Bold, italics and underlines all help generate text that is easy to scan, which is exactly what your user will be doing.
Edit, edit, edit. Goal = Eliminate unnecessary words.
For more information, contact:
Regina R. Patterson
Marketing & Web Content Consultant