Tag Archives: Web Design Tips

User-Friendliness: 5 Basic Website Rules

A couple of weeks ago I started talking about good navigation and promised to write about making sure that your websites and blog sites are user friendly.

This study is of Human Computer Interactions (HCI).

So, here is a break down of the 5 most basic (and too often ignored) rules to building a user-friendly website.

1. Find the Perfect Color Scheme

Readability is key for all content on your website. If you chose to use dark fonts with dark backgrounds or light fonts with light backgrounds, then you are breaking a cardinal rule.

Of course, you know what your article says, but you don’t want your visitors to have to highlight your text just to be able to read it do you?

You always want it to be as easy as possible for your visitors to find and read more.

It is best to choose monochromatic (different shades of the same) color schemes. Just ask Apple or Microsoft.

If you already have more than one color, make sure that they go well together. Use a color wheel, or try this web tool if you have the html color code for a color to find it’s complementary colors.

2. Show Em What You’ve Got

The first thing anyone should be able to find when they get to your homepage is a “list” of what else they’re going to find on your site. Make sure that you have a navigation bar at the top or page list on your sidebar pointing to your main web pages or categories.

Gray Area: I’ve heard mixed reviews about placing the navigation bar above the logo vs. below the logo. I read somewhere once that most people don’t read any of the content above the logo. And yet many many websites (including Google) place their menu bars at the very top.

3. Have Attention Grabbing Subscribe / Submit Buttons

Orange buttons are definitely “in” right now. If you see a request for information form on a well-designed website, many of them are changing their “Submit”, “Check it Out!”, and “Download” buttons to orange.

I’ve always considered the color orange a very cheerful color. According to many sources, the color orange increases your metabolism (which gives you an energetic feeling) and activates some kind of social center part of the brain.

4. Don’t Make Everything an Emergency

YOU’VE SEEN IT. WEBSITES WILL HAVE PAGES FULL OF CONTENT IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE THEY ARE TRYING TO GET YOUR ATTENTION! DID YOU KNOW THAT IT IS MORE DIFFICULT FOR A PERSON TO READ A MESSAGE THAT HAS BEEN TYPED OUT IN ALL UPPERCASE?

Just follow the most basic rules for using capital letters. They are to be used for acronyms, the first letter of a proper noun, and the first letter of the first word in a sentence.

Just because you can hard-code this css code: “text-transform: uppercase; ” into your stylesheet doesn’t mean that you should.

Gray Area: Some higher profile websites do use all capital letters for navigation menus (e.g. – msn) and section headers (e.g. Yahoo!). Use this sparingly. You probably don’t want to have all nav menu items in caps and all section headers in caps. Maybe just use one or the other.

5. Don’t Have Broken Links

This one can be very difficult especially for those of us who have gobs of content or people who comment with links attached to their name etc. This one is important for your human visitors and your search engine spiders that crawl your site to index content. I wrote a lot of good information about finding and fixing broken links in my article called: 4 SEO Rules That Are Here to Stay.

Are Poor Conditions Slowing Down Your Web Traffic?

Winter storms and icy roads have been causing quite a slow down in traffic here in Indianapolis. It is definitely December and this is the time of year when everyone seems to do their own sort of hibernating. Don’t they?

I cannot believe that next Monday is the LAST MONDAY before Christmas!!! :) I will get back to continuing the discussion of holiday wishes with you next week. However, this week I really needed to write about slow traffic. . . web site traffic that is.

I am really noticing page loading speed more lately because I have been cleaning up darkbluesun.com and struggling with my page loading speeds. GoDaddy is a decent host at times. Yet, some days I have had nothing but problems due to how slowly WordPress runs (probably due to how long takes to connect to the Godaddy server “grid” and retrieve info from the MySQL database service needed to run WordPress).

Page Load Speed Checkers

Here is a webpage load speed test from Pingdom Tools that you can use to see about where your site stands and get a good overview of all of the files that are actually being loaded by your visitor’s browser.

Google also has a collection of page speed tools.

Also check out this post which includes 3 steps to Optimize Web Page Response Time (a 4th step for me might be choosing a new hosting provider. ;) )

Have a spectacular week! Remember the reason for this season. It’s about peace and goodwill toward everyone.

You have the power to be a holiday blessing to somebody…
Think about it.

SEO is Changing

SEO is changing. Google is changing. Bing is… well, it’s still trying to figure out what it means to be a “decision engine”. I thought their commercials were sort of funny, but seriously… decision engine? I’d rather make my own decisions thank you very much. :D

With that being said there are some rules for search engine optimization that will NOT change. My post on darkbluesun.com this week:  4 SEO Rules that Are Here to Stay

In case you are just now joining us, my website: darkbluesun.com is being overhauled. I’ve done some things like change the theme and make it a little prettier. I fixed my header to include my image again :) and I am going to make better use of that extra white space in the top section so no worries.

Today I have posted about something a little more technical… and a little more VITAL to the success or failure of my website: getting found.

To make sure my website is properly indexed by search engines, I must first make sure that my site is following the basic SEO rules that aren’t changing anytime soon.

So go, read, learn from my mistakes, and have a great week! ;)

WordPress Redesign: Choose a Layout

The advice I shared at my new post on darkbluesun.com (my personal blog I will be giving a makeover for the next few weeks) is all about Website Layouts.
The advice shared in the article is geared toward people with personal and startup blogs. And it is a warning for all of you technically inclined enough to try and do-it-yourself.

Anyone with a professional or ecommerce blog: Hire a professional developer or purchase a theme geared for professional use.

What this article will teach you:

☑ Why it’s good to go with a theme that is close to what you want:

☑ Why it’s bad for professional websites to go with a theme that is free and used on other websites:

And why changing your WP site layout is NOT just as easy as changing your theme!

Visit: darkbluesun.com for Choosing Personal and Blog Website Layouts

I Am Redesigning My WordPress Blog!

Do you want some tips on fixing yours up?

I am going to be moving my Monday posts to darkbluesun.com while I take the next few weeks to redesign the entire thing! I am so excited about this.

You know how it is. I work on websites professionally all the time, so of course, mine gets neglected. :)

I will post an outline of my progress here though since most of you are used to coming here for my articles.

My plan is to:

  • Choose a new layout.
  • Add Better Navigation.
  • Completely redo the homepage content.
  • SEO, SEO, SEO…. <- There are so many fixes to this I will share with you!

Does This Header Make My Brand Look Big? 5 Ways to Assess Your Online Image

Shalon IronRoadIn the spotlight today is Virtual Assistant Shalon Ironroad, Human Swiss Army Knife.

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
- Author Unknown

This weekend, I was invited to a presentation about a “Work from Home Opportunity” for stay-at-home moms (sound familiar?). I am hugely skeptical about any kind of “opportunity”, so I got the URL prior to the presentation so I could do my homework. My findings were my inspiration for this post.

I was told that the goal of the company was to help young moms make money from home. With that information, I expected to see a website that was professional, fun, and appealing to Gen X mommies. Not so much. The website was a standard sales page (white background, blue text, cheesy graphics), with broken links and typos. I was turned off immediately. While this is an extreme example, it got me thinking about the message we project through our websites. In the offline world, it has been proven that the bulk of our communication is non-verbal. How does that translate to the online world, where most of what we see is written text? The overall feeling you get within the first 3 seconds on a website is that non-verbal aspect, and it can either help businesses or hurt them.

Is your Online Image helping you or hurting you? Here are 5 areas to check:

1) Website Layout
Is your website too cluttered? Is it too simple? Go to your website on your computer, then take 5 steps back. From a distance, where does your eye go? Is there a focal point, or does your eye wander? Now figuratively step back and look at your business. If your message and your personality is simple and clean, make sure your site reflects that.

2) Color
Take a look at your color scheme. Now think about your personality. Now your color scheme. Now personality. (sorry…just thinking about the Old Spice guy) If your personality is more subdued and mellow, don’t use hot pink or neon yellow on your website. People will be confused! Instead, go with softer tones like pastels. Same goes for you more outgoing and bubbly ones. Using black and all neutral/muted tones does not automatically make you look professional. Be yourself, and your clients will love you for it.

3) Graphics
There is a common myth that all graphics have to be flashy and complex (and expensive). Wrong. Think about your personality and what you want people to know about you, then work those pieces into your graphics, especially your logo and header. Symbolism is fun…get creative!

4) Voice
When a client calls you for the first time, wouldn’t it be great if he/she felt like it was a continuation of a previous conversation? This is do-able if you use your own voice on your website (and in social media). If you’re not used to writing this way, record yourself speaking, then transcribe the recording word for word. I guarantee your clients will feel more comfortable during that initial phone call!

5) Energy/Movement
The web is full of some really cool (and free!) ways to add energy and movement to your website. You want the energy level to reflect the same energy level you naturally have. This helps people get to know you before they even meet you. YouTube videos are always fantastic, or try checking out Widgetbox.

For more tips, tricks, tools, or just to get to know me better, visit my blog or my business website.

Wishing you the very best in your Work at Home Life!

Cheers,
Shalon Ironroad
Human Swiss Army Knife