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Creating a Blog Page with Design In Mind

If your goal is to communicate clearly while sharing your
knowledge with others, then why would you want to obscure your message with a
flourish of too much creativity? Yes, too much is just as bad as not enough.

Just because you know how to download, cut and paste, and
write like an expert, doesn’t really mean all of your skills belong on one web
page… all at once.

You’ve seen it. The page that looks promising – only to keep
loading with:
* flashing and spinning cursors

* gaudy kaleidoscope colors

* a racing banner ad that screams for attention

* the obnoxious, “talking head” video extolling
all the wonders of their web site, then

* their music kicks in and … By then you’re outta
there!

The sign of a professional site… whether you are blogging,
developing a static business page or maximizing all the audio/visual glam for the
social media communities that follow you… is to keep it simple.

Quality of your web site is based on your ability to refrain
from overloading.

One  of the pioneers in advertising is Michael Masterson. Whether crafting sales
letter, advertisements in newspapers and magazines, or a web page, he’s often said
not to give in to hype. One of Michael Masterson’s well-known maxims for
writing well is this:

Good writing is a single idea, clearly expressed.

Keep that in mind because even though you want to give
quality information and offer your reader more, they need to see that you are a
quality web site with the information they are searching for. Don’t make them
hunt. Give them an experience that will entice them to return.

Once the web page is opened and your visitor begins to scan,
do you know what he sees? Studies conducted on eye movement give designers a
glimpse into the mind of a reader. Did you know that the prominent spot on the
web page is the upper left corner?

 

The reader then usually scans to the next most “eye-catching”
bold element: The Headline. After that, if the topic has caught his attention,
he will hover there shortly and scan the subheads, then a photo if it’s
associated with it. Otherwise, he will scan to the upper left and zigzag across
and down the page until his eye lands on something of more interest.

The eye roves around the page landing on prominent features
and elements that have more contrast, support a color he likes, or an element
of design he recognizes. The reader will also linger on an area of white space
that helps him analyze the basic layout. All of this is happening in a few short
seconds.

Most web page designers know that they have a mere 7 seconds
to show what the page offers, entice the reader to hover, and then engage the
reader in investing more quality time to stay and read. Americans are not
motivated by reading, at least not as much as they used to be.

The days of taking a book to read in bed are based usually
by those who grew up doing just that. Today, instant information is expected.
Content and readability must be high and the “stickiness” quality is paramount.

 Reading Gravity

Designing a web site with special attributes that offer a
learning experience, a place in which to retreat, or a place to shop, is the
ultimate goal. Understanding how a reader scans a page is critical in determining
how effective the web site truly is.

You can go to : www.webstyleguide.com
to understand how eye tracking and design go hand-in-hand. here’s a short
excerpt from their pages:

 

Canonical form in web pages: Where to put things, and why

What governs how people scan pages of information, print or screen?
According to classical art composition theory the corners and middle of a plane
attract early attention from viewers. In a related compositional practice, the
“rule of thirds” places centers of interest within a grid that divides both
dimensions in thirds. These compositional rules are purely pictorial, however,
and are probably most useful for displays or home pages composed almost
entirely of graphics or photography. Most page composition is dominated by
text, and there our reading habits are the primary forces that shape the way we
scan pages. In Western languages we read from top to bottom, scanning left to
right down the page in a “Gutenberg z” pattern. This preference for attention
flow down the page—and a reluctance to reverse the downward scanning—is called
“reading gravity” and explains why it is rarely a good idea to place the
primary headline anywhere except the top of a page. Readers who are scanning
your work are unlikely to back up the page to “start again.” Search engines
also have a well-known bias toward items near the top of a page.
Placement of your priority information should stay “above
the fold.” This is an old newspaper term that refers to a bundle of papers for
sale lying on the street corner. Anyone walking by must be enticed to purchase
a newspaper. The top story should be fully readable with easy access so
customers stop and get a free treat – news they can use. Everything below the
fold of the paper is secondary. This strategy continues today. Now the “fold”
is the bottom of the viewing screen of your web site.

 

Don’t  make your  reader scroll down too deep into the content to find what he is looking for?
Consider shorter bits of content with photos or graphics that enhance his  reading time on your page right at the top. The odds are with you that by  giving a little you’ll get a lot. He will be satisfied, and naturally go below  the fold without being told to.

 

That reader will stay longer, investigate what you have to
offer, and has a higher percentage chance of returning.

 

You now have some basic strategies and new concepts to apply
to your web pages. These tricks-of-the-trade will help make your web site look
and feel more professional in the eyes of your visitors.

 

So, as you take a closer look at your current web site,
consider that you don’t have a billboard but an interactive, thought-provoking,
highly-focused window into the reader’s mind. What will you do with it once you
have it?

 Rusty LaGrange

For more information about eye tracking go to:

http://webstyleguide.com/wsg3/3-information-architecture/4-presenting-information.html

 

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4 Comments

  1. February 28, 2012    

    I LOVE that first photo! You’ve given helpful ways of keeping blogging simple. Interesting information about reading gravity.

  2. March 1, 2012    

    The gloves tradition is quite interesting. I find the “leaper” mother and son info. amazing, so much that I blogged about it over at KitchenHospitality.com. Great blogging, Rusty!

  3. March 1, 2012    

    Researching is half the fun of blogging. I learn so much more as I look into the aspects of different topics. And here, I thought, wearing gloves was just for that “high-society” fashion look. I’m sure there’s other traditional reasons but who would have thought that gloves would be mandated to keep a maiden from being emabrassed. The most famous modern gloves toady are Michael Jackson’s.

  4. March 2, 2012    

    Another blogger from Inland Empire Bloggers told me this week that she likes to research and dig. It’s a blogging thing for sure. Ah, yes, gloves – a topic that could go in many directions. My favorite use for gloves is for gardening, quite different from the embarrassed maiden and Michael Jackson use for gloves.

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