Use simplicity to create effective webpages
On the web today – keep it simple for your lens or blog
It’s pretty weird to look back at some of the strange things we used to do on websites in the last century. Today, whether you’re creating a huge website or a single page here on Squidoo, it’s important to keep it simple.
Because we could
That was our attitude – we’d find a piece of coding that created colored scroll bars (for example) and think we were very clever. We would add all sorts of nonsense simply because we could. But today, people are accessing the web from many different types of device and our ‘cute’ little tricks just won’t work any more.
Things to avoid
The internet – and the devices we use – change all the time. And they’ll continue to change. If we keep our pages simple, then we can assure readability on all platforms, plus create an insurance for ourselves so that our pages and websites won’t need extensive overhauling next week, next month or next year. Avoid:
- CSS – the more code you have, the more you’re likely to need to update in future
- Tables – these do not render on cellphones
- Flash – not many people use it today because many devices just don’t ‘read’ it
- Huge quantities of text – people simply don’t read them
- Lots of links in the text – these confuse the viewer; should they click or read on?
- Excessive confusing images – we want to make it easy for our readers
Below, I’m demonstrating using this site and creating a Squidoo lens but most of these principles apply on your own website or blog too. If you’d like to see the page demoed below, click here.
Design for usability
1. The introduction. On many sites, the image you select for your intro will be used as its icon, so choose carefully. (In WordPress, for example, this will be your ‘featured image’.)
It’s a good idea to crop the image in closely so that its subject matter can still be seen when it’s shown much smaller. If it has the ability to intrigue the reader, so much the better.
2. On Squidoo, when you create your introduction, click the ‘table of contents’ tab too to create links such as those you see on the right. These help your readers navigate the page.
3. Text should always be broken up into small chunks as you can see here.(Don’t worry if you need to create a paragraph at a point that isn’t strictly correct).
People skim your copy and hone in on words they find interesting. This is very difficult to do with long passages of text.
4. Uniformity is important. Some of these images were monochrome, others were color but it’s gentler on the eye if they do not change in general aspect. By making the colored images monochrome, a more consistent look can be given to your page. To achieve uniformity, create all images to the same size.
The same applies to the copy. Your readers will feel more comfortable – and more inclined to read – if the chunks of copy are approximately the same length. People don’t want to be surprised or unsettled – make readers feel comfortable on your pages or your website.
5. Something that your viewers will find unsettling is a page that screams ‘buy this’. If you are reviewing a specific product, that’s different, but if you’re writing an informative article, be sure that any commercial aspects fully gel with your subject. Again, use pargraphs.
6. Adding video is easy. Squidoo makes it particularly simple by offering a video module where you can show several relevant clips. On other sites, use the embed code to add clips to add to the value you are offering to your readers.
7. Related articles are a splendid idea. If your readers have been interested in what they read then they’ll be happy to read more. This site has a very convenient module which you can see on the right. If you use WordPress, there are any number of plugins that will generate these automatically.
8. People are accustomed to sidebar ads. Almost every site uses the right hand sidebar for commercial purposes.
Again, Squidoo makes it easy thanks to the discovery tool feature in the introduction module and this is the perfect place to add links to product reviews that are related to your topic.
On Squidoo, this facility is ready for you to simply add the URLs of your related product pages, including the presentation of the thumbnails and the links.