Website Design, The Ugly Truth
I have been making websites since before anyone had ever heard of Facebook or MySpace. Back in my day, there was no ‘Click here to upload photos’ button. We did everything via HTML and uploaded with FTP programs. There was no WYSIWYG interface, and you had to be pretty elite just to have your website. Nowadays, most anyone can throw together a site pretty quickly. While this is nice to stake your claim on the web, the result is that sometimes people get too focused on the less important aspects of their site. Here’s a look at what I call the ugly truth about web design.
The Importance of Content
First and foremost, I must insist that the most important part of a website is the content. I can argue this to no end with friends and clients and them almost never listen, so I’m going to put it here so you can shake your head and ignore me, too. The simple truth is that most people don’t care about your background colors so long as they aren’t annoying, and nobody pays attention to logo graphics for more than a second. People will spend days, if not weeks, going back and forth over shades of gray and whether or not to put the logo graphics on the left or right side of the page. What’s important is the actual content of the site. The rest is just filler.
What is content? In the simplest terms, content is everything but the graphics and menus. It’s the real reason why people come to your website. On a news site, the content would be the news articles. On a car dealership website, the content would be pictures and information about the vehicles they have for sale. Content is what people look for when they visit a website. It’s what turns up in search engines when you are looking for something. Does Google rank sites by the coolness of their logos or how well their background color blends with the menu colors? No!
Real reason of having a good layout
Designing the layout of a website involves creating a virtual box in which to hold your content. This box will typically include some logo or graphical header to identify the site; then there will be a menu of some kind on the top, left, or right side of the page. Pretty much every website is done like this. People who have been using the Internet long enough to know how to navigate a website can figure out how to get to different pages. As long as you make the text easy to read, most people can find their way around. There’s no need to go overboard in moving buttons and graphics around, because if people are interested in your content, they will click what they want.
The purpose of a website is to share information of some kind. This information could be news stories, product reviews, sales information, or whatever comes to mind. Maybe you are just posting jokes and funny pictures. If you want people to like your site and visit it often, then you need to keep this information updated. That means you should consistently post new content or update what you’ve got. Why do you think sites like Facebook and Twitter do so well? It’s because there’s new content every few seconds. It’s not because their light gray and blue colors blend well, or that their logo has awesome flame animations. That stuff doesn’t matter.
Whether you are building a website for someone, doing it yourself, or paying a designer to make a website for you, please don’t get caught up in the mistake of spending all your time focusing on silly stuff like graphics and color schemes. You want the site to look decent, and that’s not exactly hard to do, but don’t forget about making your content good. Otherwise, you’ll just end up with a cute website that has nothing on it, and people won’t come back to visit your empty box.