Does the design of your website or printed materials get in the way of your message?
Many marketing pieces seem to be designed purely to show how clever the designer is, not to get the message across. Although the problem exists in print, it is epidemic on the Internet. I recently visited a website where all of the menus were done in Flash. It took longer to load than text, and was harder to use. I couldn’t wait to get away from that site, and I have a broadband connection. Many users are still using dial-up connections.
Here are a few tips for user-friendly publications and web sites:
Graphics should enhance the message. Use a graphic that fits what you are trying to say, and the audience you are trying to reach. Animations may seem like a cute idea for your web site, but make sure they don’t repeat constantly. The motion is distracting and annoying.
Use fonts that are readable. For the web, that usually means sans serif fonts, such as Arial and Verdana. In print, large blocks of text are most readable when they are in serif fonts, such as Times Roman and Garamond. Use only one or two fonts per page, in most cases.
Keep text readable with lots of contrast between the background and the type. Red type on a pink background won’t cut it. And remember that too-small type is hard for many people to read.
Break text up into short blocks and bulleted lists. It is easier to read and understand that way.
And if you are tempted to put a Flash intro on your web site, don’t. The only people I have ever met who like Flash intros are the web designers who charge extra for making them. No one has time to sit there waiting for your little movie to play.
First rule of design: Don’t annoy the customers. Keep your design clean and easy to read.