• Day 7 – Web design concepts

It’s all about content, not about looks.

Original, relevant, timely content. Interesting content. Not interesting design. People will come to your site because it has information they want and can’t get anywhere else — not because it looks slick.

Remember, readers don’t come to your site for its design. They come for information.

I just said that. But it bears repeating.

Content management systems and “themes” take care of most of the traditional design issues.

The web design issues are: What do you want users to see? What do you want users to find?

Clear navigation is all important. Labels must mean what users are likely to think they mean.

Information on your sites should be: original, relevant, interesting and timely. (We’ve said that before.)

Think about the concept of information architecture.

The best websites are the ones that have the most news with the clearest presentation.

Everything on your home page should be judged by the amount of information it contains, not by how it looks.

Web users are, in the words of Jakob Nielsen, “lazy, selfish and ruthless.”

They don’t care about design in the way you were taught to care about design. They want information, and they want it to be clear and simple. They don’t want to work for it. They want you to give it to them. They don’t care if your website wins design awards. If you don’t give them the information they want, they’ll leave.


Additional readings and links

BBC News, Web users are getting more ‘ruthless.’ May 24, 2008:

Instead of dawdling on websites many users want simply to reach a site quickly, complete a task and leave.

Most ignore efforts to make them linger and are suspicious of promotions designed to hold their attention.

Instead, many are “hot potato” driven and just want to get a specific task completed.

Smashing Magazine, 10 principles of effective web design, Jan. 31, 2008.

Jakob Nielsen, Top 10 guidelines for homepage usability, Useit.com, May 12, 2002.

Jakob Nielsen, F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content, Useit.com, April 17, 2006.

Andy Rutledge, News Redux, Design+View, July 17, 2011.

Discussion questions

Take on one of these and post a response on our forum:

1. What are the major factors that make design on the web different from design in print?



News site management assignments

Home page manager. The Home page manager is an important plugin for WordPress sites that allows editors to control what appears on the home page. The tendency for all WordPress sites is to put the latest item at the top of the home page. This plugin allows you to control what goes onto the home page even though it might not be the latest things posted to the site. Follow the directions on page 10 of the ISONN administrator’s guide or check out this page on the ICONN website.


Get a FREE copy of Kill the Quarterback

Get a free digital copy of Jim Stovall's mystery novel, Kill the Quarterback. You will also get Jim's newsletter and advanced notice of publications, free downloads and a variety of information about what he is working on. Jim likes to stay in touch, so sign up today.

Powered by ConvertKit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *