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 What is the mission for your website? Does it successfully blend content and context? 

By Ginny Stibolt 

Maze graphicYour website may be amazing, but it should not be a maze or a game.  

You want your visitors to quickly and easily get the information they need about your business.

This is the third in a series of articles on web content written especially for Digital Harbor On-Line.  Today we’re combining content and style because in order for your website visitors to easily decipher your message, you not only need to make sure the text is clearly written, but that the text can be read, your site is easy to navigate and that you’ve followed normal web protocol for clarity.  Remember that you need to test your website with various browsers to see what happens.

Starting with readability and “normal” protocol:

- Your website should be readable – the font should be easy to see.  This is a function of both the typeface and the font color compared to the background.  Choose a clean font that is available in all browsers such as Arial or Verdana and make sure the font is large enough and that its color is dark on a light background or light on a dark background.  (Light background is preferred for readability.)

- All hyperlinks should be underlined. - A different color is not good enough because people may have trouble seeing colors. No other text should be underlined. Yes, you could tell the difference if you run your mouse cursor over this spot, but no guessing should be required. This goes for buttons, logos, icons and other items that look like they could be a link – if it looks like a link, it should be a link – if it doesn’t look like a link, it shouldn’t surprise the visitor by being a link.

- If you have a background image, it should be simple and not interfere with the readability of the text. If the background is more than just adding texture to the site, it should have some significance for the mission of your webpages.  I’ve noticed that there are some juvenile graphics on more than a few business-oriented sites – remember you need to look out for your overall image and the message your visitor receives from your site.

Keep in mind the mission for your website and make sure your visitors are not left wondering what to do to find the information they need about you and your business.

This is not a mystery to be solved – your website needs to be straightforward and obvious to be a successful business site. 

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© Ginny Stibolt (You may not repost this article, but you may quote parts of it with a link back to this page. 

This was originally published on Digital Harbor On-line in 2002 and updated in 2014.

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