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Presenting information

Presenting information on a Web page is an art unto itself. The information you present depends on the type of site you design and what the client gives you to work with. The typical Web site is a mixture of images and text, with, perhaps, some multimedia content added for grins and giggles.

  • Break major ideas into bullet points. Bullet points make a page look less cluttered. See Figure 4-5 .

    Figure 4-5: Breaking information into bullet points.

  • Arrange the page so that the information has a logical flow. You can break up big blocks of information using header styles. Readers should be able to sum up the information presented on a page by glancing at the headlines and then deciding what information they want to read.

  • Break up text with pictures. If applicable, add a caption to each picture on a page. Busy site visitors can use captions to sum up the information presented on a Web page at a glance.

  • Don't use color combinations that are hard to read. For example, pink text on a dark‐colored background is difficult to read. The old tried and true black text on a white background is always legible.

  • Don't use small fonts. A text size smaller than 10 points is almost impossible for visitors to read, unless they have extremely acute vision. If your intended audience is getting on in years, the text shouldn't be smaller than 12 points.

  • When you're designing your site, make sure you view it using the smallest desktop size of your intended audience. As of this writing, 52 percent of Web site visitors are surfing the Net with a desktop size of 1024 x 768. Make sure your design flows logically and is easy to read.

  • If you're using a newsletter style with multiple columns for your Web page, make the columns different widths. Also, don't exceed two columns, especially if your audience uses a small desktop size. (See Figure 4-6 .) If you're using a horizontal menu, you can increase to three columns.

    Figure 4-6: Creating a newsletter‐style page that is easy to read.

  • Don't use nonstandard font faces when designing your pages. Your intended audience might not have the font installed on their machines, which causes the browser to use the default system font. This might cause usability issues and make the page difficult to read. When in doubt, stick to the fab four: Arial, Georgia, Times New Roman, or Verdana.

  • Don't use a busy background for your pages. The busyness makes text hard to read. If your client insists on a tiling background (when a small image is repeated on the page, which when the page loads looks like a single image), choose a simple design and lower the opacity in an image‐editing application such as Fireworks or Photoshop.

  • Use hyperlinked text to draw a viewer's attention to pertinent content. If you use this technique, make sure you don't disable hyperlink decoration with a cascading style sheet. Your goal is to make the hyperlink easy to see when the page loads. If you don't like underlined hyperlinks, use the style sheet to modify the color of the hyperlink text.

  • Use bold‐faced text to direct the viewer's eye to important information.

  • If several authors write the Web site content, make sure the style and voice is similar. A Web site should read like a book. Consistency is important.

  • Make sure the terminology and spelling is consistent sitewide. For example, don't use Website (one word) in one section, and Web site (two words) in another. At the risk of being redundant, consistency is important.

  • Make sure the structure and the layout of the pages is consistent. Pages might have to vary, depending on the content, but the look and style needs to be consistent.

  • If you're using multimedia content such as movies and sound files, make sure they're all the same file format. For example, don't use the Windows Media Format for some of your movies and Apple's QuickTime for the rest. Choose a file format that the majority of your client's intended audience can view and stick with that standard.


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