We are communicating creatures, always picking up clues that will help us deal with people and situations. For written information, that can be:
- what you say
- the way you say it
- the way you present it.
That last one is about visual design. Whether you pay attention to it or not, visitors to your website will take impressions from the way it looks, and these will have a powerful effect on whether they decide to hang around and read your words of wisdom. Do you seem trustworthy and authentic? Do you know your stuff (and live it)? Will your pages be pleasant to read?
Let’s try an exercise
Looking at your own site objectively can be hard. (Especially if you made it yourself, or you’ve only just got it finished.) This is a very simple exercise to help you get started.
1) Bring your home page up on screen, and look at it for the count of “one and two and three and”, then take it away by closing or minimising the window. You might find it useful to partially close your eyes or do something else to make it slightly out of focus.
Then look at the list of terms below and note down any that are strong/significant impressions of the site. (Or you can print this page and tick or circle them.)
Wall of text
2) Hopefully you were able to pick a few of those impressions. (Maybe some others as well.) Now make a separate list of the three that come across most strongly.
3) Does that fit with the message you want to give about who you are or what you do? Or is some of it contrary to the impression you want to give – or entirely unrelated either way?
If the words you write give one message but the design around them gives a different one, what do you think happens?
Want to explore further?
I was hoping you’d ask! I’ve released an e-course covering just this area, called What is your website saying about you behind your back?.
It leads you through information and exercises about colour, fonts and layout. You’ll become more aware of their effects on your audience, and gather ideas to use on your site. It’s aimed at people without a design background, and written in a light, easy to understand way. Click the link if you’d like to find out more.
Tell us about your site
Was that little exercise helpful? Feel free to use the comments to link to your site and tell us what impressions you think it gives.