GPayne checkin’ in. Recently I met with Evelyn Helminen, Web & Social Media Co-Manager of the DLC, and guru to all things web design. We sat down to chat about my WordPress website, which I began as a course assignment for my IEM degree back in the fall of 2013. It had however, evolved into something much larger over time. In fact, it had evolved so much that it no longer even conveyed the most important messages clearly and effectively. During my internal website audit, Evelyn pointed out some key areas of improvement, so now it’s my turn to share what I’ve learned:
- Define your purpose:
- Website design begins with purpose. If it’s an e-portfolio, make it showcase your talent. If it’s a blog, make it consistently expressive. If it’s built for a business, make it sell. Multipurpose websites are difficult to identify with and tend to turn off the target user, so when you define your purpose, make it clear.
- Hone your message:
- Website design helps to bring your message to the forefront of people’s attention. Think about it, people sit on average 1-2 feet away from their screen. When your message is displayed on the screen in front of the user, be sure that it’s comprehensible. We found that my style of writing in my e-portfolio is a bit too conversational. It works great for this blog post, but for a potential employer, wordiness won’t grant me an interview. So take it from me, be clear!
- Design your landing page to be comfortable:
- Website design is about capturing your audience for as many seconds as possible. If you’ve ever visited a website that didn’t welcome you appropriately, you likely didn’t stay for long. Even spending 4-5 seconds on a page you don’t intend on reading is unlikely, so don’t expect it from anyone else on the internet. Your target user should be welcomed and encouraged to stay on the pages you designate, so make your pages leave lasting impressions.
- Make it navigable:
- Another major turn off to the average user of your website is navigation confusion. Design your links and drop down menus to be easily located, easily read, and linked to the right place. Try displaying less items on your drop down menus for ease of use, or try making your most important links (to PDFs and videos) open up in separate tabs.
- Use images and videos to break the canvas:
- Your website is flat. Get used to it. Flat surfaces are good for skateboarding, but on the internet, generally everyone’s surfaces are flat. Break the surface of your space, and separate yourself from the crowd, with well-placed pictures and videos. Maybe a video tutorial of your website or a talking head is what you need. Just be sure not to overlook the power of colors when breaking the canvas. They’re subtle, but they still help to liven things up.
Of course, there are plenty of other things I learned during my internal audit, but they’re a bit more specific to my needs. I’d be happy to share them with you, but you’re going to have to drop-in or make an appointment (go.miis.edu/dlcappointment). See you soon!