Don’t choose a theme or design for your website merely because it looks good. Be intentional with its layout and purpose.
If you’ve been listening, you should have WordPress set up, some core plugins installed, and be in the process of choosing a new theme.
In this episode, learn additional strategies when choosing a theme or layout and how to be intentional about what you add to your website.
This information has been acquired through various studies in the past and six years of my own personal experience.
I’ve implemented several changes to JeremySarber.com over the last week for the same reasons you’ll hear in this episode.
The 10-second rule
People are busy and often multitasking when browsing the Internet. Your website has less than ten seconds to prove its value.
You might think: All I need is a stunning design. But don’t let this tempt you to make your website…
- Too “corporate” (lacks personality).
- Too “artsy” (overly cluttered or steals focus).
A stunning design is a great start so long as people can find exactly what they’re looking for (or what you want them to find) with ease.
Poor design can discourage visitors from giving the site a chance. But good web design doesn’t mean they’ll become instant fans.
The psychology of web design
Effective (not just good-looking) web design requires we understand human behavior. If your website has a purpose, the goal is to use “social triggers” to see that purpose fulfilled.
This is not manipulation because no one is being deceived. Rather, we use psychology to help visitors follow the intentional flow of the site.
Start browsing various websites across the Internet. With each site, ask yourself, “What do they want me to notice or do?”
If the answer is obvious, they have successfully employed a call to action. If not, they have failed or have too many calls to action.
The psychology of a layout
Study after study shows people view new websites like they read books. Their eyes move from left to right and top to bottom. Content to the left and “above the fold” naturally gets more attention.
Good layout rules to consider:
- Put main content on the left and sidebar on the right.
- If you need two sidebars, you are trying to put too much into them.
- Content in the footer or sidebar (below the length of a typical post) will rarely be seen.
- Anything above the logo will be seen but only used if necessary.
- Images and bold graphics draw focus away from text.
The psychology of colors
Lots of studies have determined how colors affect our moods…
- Yellow: comfort, liveliness, intellect, happiness, energy
- Red: strength, boldness, excitement, determination, desire, courage
- Blue: depth, stability, professionalism, loyalty, reliability, honor, trust
- Green: durability, reliability, safety, honesty, optimism, freshness
- Orange: enthusiasm, cheerfulness, affordability, creativity
- Black: elegance, sophistication, formality, strength, mystery
- Purple: power, nobility, luxury, mystery, royalty, elegance
- Gray: conservatism, traditionalism, intelligence, seriousness
- Brown: endurance, relaxing, confident, casual, reassuring, earthy
- White: cleanliness, purity, newness, peace, innocence, simplicity
There’s a lot of truth to the psychological influence of colors, but don’t get carried away. It’s better to use colors in moderation. Never underestimate the power of whitespace.
Decide what is most important
Don’t be tempted to add stuff to your website just because everyone else does. Trends often develop across websites without good reason.
My primary call to action on JeremySarber.com is the email subscription form. It’s located to the left and above the fold as well as at the bottom of each post. The red makes it stand out.
My secondary call to action are the social share buttons (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, email). They are on the left side of the main content as well as at the bottom of each post.
Everything else (besides my logo and my picture) is black and white. This forces my calls to action to be noticed. Since making those changes, sharing and email subscriptions have increased.
My sidebar has a picture of me (notice my eyes gazing toward the primary call to action), five of the most shared posts this month (proving my site is no one-trick pony), and a list of categories.
If you own a business, your products/services are likely most important. If you represent a church, your address and meetings times are likely most important. List your priorities and design accordingly.
User-friendly fonts and formatting
Most people are attracted to a website because of the content. Make sure the look and feel of that content doesn’t discourage them.
People hate to read on a computer screen. Set your font between 50-75 characters per line. Use the Golden Ratio Typography Calculator to determine the best font size for your website’s width.
The main content on my site has a width of 580 pixels. Since I’m using the Arial font, I have to use 18-pixel font with a line height of 27 pixels to keep my CPL (characters per line) under 75.
You have to write for the web. Keep your paragraphs and even sentences short. Divide up your post using headlines throughout. People like to scan before they begin reading.
Final word of advice: Simple is almost always better. Make your website really easy to use.