The average Internet user has little time to hunt for what they want when they can find a page offering information in a clearly-accessible fashion. It’s too easy to exit one Web page and open another; it’s much easier than hunting around on a page that isn’t well-designed. To achieve perfect page design, you must never lose sight of one end-all, be-all objective: navigation.
Flashing text, banner ads, streaming video and bold graphics are only some of the elements which are often used to grab the eyes and command attention on the Internet. When you have a lot of great content, plenty of advertisements to help you supplement your site income and all sorts of little extras that brighten the look of a page, your navigation can easily become swamped. The perfect page design is one which puts all your content, ad and navigational elements together in one pleasing eyeful.
If you fill your page with distractions, your traffic is likely to become annoyed, leaving the page instead of opting to spend a few extra moments searching for what they need. Internet traffic is used to instant gratification and one-click ease. These are not the people who are going to patiently scroll through your site to find the search bar or links they really need. It’s much easier to simply find another site — and they will.
Take an objective look at your page and ask yourself what seems to stick out the most. If you find your eyes continually being drawn to a single element, you may not have the perfect page design. You may, in fact, have a bit of a serious design problem.
When something sticks out on your page, the eye is constantly drawn to that area. This is good if you want traffic to focus on certain content, but this can be detrimental if other parts of your page fade into the background.
The eye should naturally sweep the page to take everything in easily, lingering only at areas where you purposefully want to divert visitors’ attention. You don’t want important elements like navigation to disappear as a result of all this diversion, however.
You also don’t want to draw the eye to one aspect of the site too much, as this makes the rest of the page seem to recede. The stare effect can actually hurt you, because users will linger for so long on one object they’ll grow bored and move on to something else. Usually, they won’t be moving on to more of your content.
You want to create pages where all elements seem to work together, where everything flows so visitors can naturally explore the entire page. Make it easy for them to take it all in so they can find the specifics they want with ease.
If they’re staring at one element or can’t find the one thing they do want, your site won’t be remembered well by your visitors. Achieving good word-of-mouth on the Internet is paramount. The fastest way to spread a link is through online gossip. When people like your pages, they’ll help bring in much more traffic to your site.
Certain elements of your page should be immediately visible, though not necessarily overpowering. You’ll want to give these necessities good placement on your pages so they’re always easy to spot.
Above all, your main concern for your site must always be navigation. Perfect page design begins and ends with navigation, the ease with which traffic finds just what they want from your site. If traffic doesn’t like your site’s navigation, it isn’t likely they’ll ever come back to view your pages — no matter how great your content might be.
There are many ways to display the navigational elements of your page. Some sites use frames, where navigational links are arranged on the top, bottom or on either side of the page. Traffic clicks on a link in one frame to pull up content which appears in the middle frame of the page. This is a very easy, familiar way to explore a site. Other sites may use permanent navigational toolbars which appear centrally on the page.
However you design your navigation, make sure it’s easy enough for a child to use. Even if your site caters to very well-educated adults, your site’s navigation should at all times be ridiculously simple. A click here, a word there, and traffic should instantly find what they want. Anything less and they’re likely to leave, so make navigation prominent and make it very, very straightforward. Remember, the Internet is all about ease of use.
When everything on your page works well together, it’s easy for users to see what you’ve got to offer. They’ll feel more comfortable and find your page easy to scan. It’s much more likely they’ll notice something that will catch their interest, which could cause them to linger on the page and perhaps spend some time clicking around. This is when perfect page design starts to pay off for you (and your site).
Once you’ve arranged your navigation, content and other features to create a cohesive flow, it’s time to think about the finishing touches. You’ve got the backbone of your page in place…so now you’ve got to dress it up.
Choose soothing colors that are easy on the eyes, and avoid busy backgrounds that may clutter up the look of a page. Be sure that all links match and that all content has the same layout, because you don’t want to create a confusing, disjointed look.
What’s pleasing to the eye is what works well for page design, so choose something that seems relaxing and attractive. A simple look is often best if you want to create pleasing pages.
The perfect page design is one which makes users want to enjoy more of your site, so create a space that invites the restless Internet traveler. Cater to your traffic, and you’ll create a great Web site.