This is part one of a three part series this week on site design.
How many times have you seen this? You find a great podcast, listen to a couple of shows and really get into it. Maybe you want to know a little bit more about who’s creating this. Or maybe there’s a call-to-action on the show to visit their site.
You type in the URL, wait for the page to load and then… CLICK HERE
Who Cares About My Site? It’s the Show That Matters!
If you have no intention of using affiliate advertising (or AdSense) to make some extra money; if you have not interest in luring lucrative accounts to sponsor your show; nor if you don’t have any intention of creating a combination blog/podcast… then no, your site doesn’t matter. It’s just a dumping ground for your show.
And, hey, that’s okay. Some folks are quite pleased to create their show, upload it to the web and iTunes and let the podcatchers do their thing.
But I doubt that you fall into that category since you’re here.
Blogger and WordPress Themes
Thank goodness that with the advent of Blogger and WordPress we don’t run into this quite as often as we did, say 10 years ago. But it’s still out there.
If you’re not using one of the many podcast networks available to house your ‘casts, then I’m assuming you’re either using Blogger or WordPress. There’s not a lot you can do with Blogger so I going to stick to WordPress.
Let’s face it, not all of the WordPress themes out there are winners.
Depending on your experience with coding, and I’m going to assume you’re not a PHP or CSS maven. There’s only so much you can do to adjust a WP theme. But I can give you some pointers as what to look for if you’re on a budget and looking for a free theme.
If you’re building your own site from scratch, pay attention because this will especially apply to you.
5 Basic Design Concepts
These five concepts are the cornerstone to web design:
Graphic and web designers (yes, I’m one of them) will almost always try to get you to understand the idea of quality design over quantity of content. Not only should the page be functional, but it should also be aesthetically pleasing.
Designers will embrace these five concepts when creating a page, site, ad, banner, billboard, book, magazine, et al. By understanding these concept and taking them into consideration when looking for a WordPress theme, you’ll immediately be able to weed out the unusable designs from the more functional ones. You’ll also figure out that spending a few bucks on a premium design may be worth your time. (I can highly recommend StudioPress themes… I’m an affiliate, but I also use them).
I’m not going to go into depth on these five concepts because I’d just be regurgitating what’s already in a hundred places on the web. An excellent description of each concept can be found at CqWen.com
Full of Crap
Oh, and did I mention… most designers are full of crap. It’s not that we’re wrong about all of this, but aesthetic functionality is not the “be all, end all.” I’ll talk about that in the next two posts.
Little Fixes, Big Results
What I want to talk about today are some little things that you can do within the framework of WordPress. How you present your shows, your pages, and your site can either give your viewer a pleasant and meaningful experience or piss them off so badly they never want to come back.
I can’t tell you how many sites I run across that either run a dark type on a dark background or something equally as bad, yellow text on a white background.
Here’s a simple test: print out a page from your website. Take it to your nearest quickprint shop and have them run a black and white copy of it.
Can you still read it? If not, there’s not enough contrast between your copy and your background.
Sans Serif Fonts
If you’re reading a book or magazine you’ll notice that most of the time the font used is a serif font (see the example below). This is because the eye follows a small serif font across the page better than a sans serif.
But it’s not true for a web page. Because your monitor or smart phone or whatever device you’re using to view the page is back-lit, it’s actually easier for the eye to follow a sans serif font.
Double-Spacing After a Period
If you whack the space bar twice after typing a period, you’ve just announced to the world that you’re over the age of 40. That’s an old holdout from learning how to type on a typewriter. Stop doing it.
No More Than Two Fonts on a Page
Have you ever seen a page (online or in print) that, although the design was fine there was something just off with it? Count the number of fonts used on the page. I bet there will be a lot more than just two.
Just because you have all the fonts in the world available to you doesn’t mean you need to use them.
Look for WordPress Themes that limit themselves to one or two fonts.
White, Black and Red
This is from my mentor’s book, Roger Black: Web Sites That Work (Amazon Affiliate link) and his 10 Rules of Design
- Rule 2: The first color is white.
- Rule 3: The second color is black.
- Rule 4: The third color is red.
This was grasped by printers over 500 years ago. Either black or white is your background, black holds the highest contrast to white and red works well with both.
This will help you get started. In the next post I want to touch on usability.