September usually brings about that 'back to' mentality — whether school or work — where we do our best to remember the fundamentals when returning to the office or to our pre-summer pace. In recognition of those cogs and wheels getting back into gear, we've decided to revisit the basics with you. Today and next week we'll focus on the two primary mediums of a website, visual and written, and why it's important to utilize both. As appearance is what we notice first, we'll start with it.
Get the Look
We love to look at things that look good. We can't help it, our eye is instinctively drawn to appealing visuals — catching colour, clean lines, simple design, interesting graphics, funky patterns or, if you're anything like me, twinkly things like the lighting section of department stores, but I digress. The point is, we garner our first impression of a company from the appearance of its website, so it's important to put your best face forward. While that may sound shallow, think about it this way: the optics of wearing your pajama-bottoms to a job interview aren't good. And thankfully, the way your website turns out isn't based on a genetic lottery system, you have plenty of control. Here are just a few examples of how you can make your website look good, and why you should.
The colours you choose for your site set a certain mood, which can be anything from warm and inviting to cool and professional. A good place to start your selection is with your logo. If you feel that your logo's pallet doesn't exactly work as an overall colour theme, at least try to integrate it as much as possible — you want people to associate certain colours with your company. Not only do colours have a profound impact on feeling, but some combinations can actually obscure content, for instance, red text on a black background is never a good idea.
Speaking of text, if colour sets the mood, then font sets the tone. Typeface can affect the way your written material sounds to the reader. This is a similar concept to how leaving the Caps Lock on will always come across as YELLING. Because type fonts change how your message is received, it's important to match the tone of your font with the overall tone you'd like your website to convey. But whether it's the stately Times New Roman or ubiquitous Arial, you can rest assured that choosing the jaunty Comic Sans will get everyone's ire up.
Page layout should also be taken into consideration. Preferences may vary but there seems to be a general consensus around white space. A decent amount of white space creates a calm atmosphere where the eye can move seamlessly from text box to image to link. Not enough white space and it's difficult to know where to focus, your page can look cluttered and intimidating; too much white space and your site appears vacant and rudimentary. When it comes to layout, a balanced page with a less-is-more approach to written content is best.
Now that we've brought you back to the basics on the visual side of things, it's time to conduct an honest assessment of your website. If you were a prospective client, would you find it enticing and respectable? Or off-putting and unprofessional? Sometimes if you are a little too close to the source to be objective, a great approach is to crowd-source for answers — ask a friend, colleague, or even client what their initial opinion was.
Your website may be full of useful information, but if it's hard to look at, no one will stick around long enough to find out. A website that catches our attention with strong aesthetic appeal is one that we will linger on, piquing our curiosity, making us wonder what else it has to offer. It's one that generates a favourable first impression, which is key to establishing trust.
Visit us next week when we go back to the basics of quality writing.