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make your brand and website design speak to the heart

Today I’m sharing a handful of graphic tricks that will spice up your website, and make it easier to use and more pleasant to look at.

These visual tweaks will help your site go directly to your visitors’ hearts, because it will be easier to navigate, and full of imagery and color that’s warm, inviting and makes a connection.

1. Pick One Action and Make it Obvious

When a visitor arrives at the home page of your website for the first time, what one action would you like them to take in response to what they find there? It may be:

  • To sign up for your free e-mail course
  • To purchase your product
  • To contact you for a consultation
  • To fill out a form requesting more information
  • To download your white paper, case study or free report

Whatever one action you’d like them to take, make it the most visually prominent item on the page. Give it a top left or top right position on the page. Emphasize it with bright colors and bold typefaces. Use a compelling call to action. Don’t try to send them in more than one direction at once.

2. Focus on Content with Readable Fonts

You want people to read the words you’ve written, and linger on your page. Make it easy for them by using typefaces that are easy to read.

I’ve written a lot about type on this site already. Here are the main points to remember:

Pick fonts with a large x-height. This is the space between the baseline the letters sit on, and the top of the lower-case letters. Fonts with large x-heights are easier to read.

Break up long paragraphs of text into manageable chunks. People read screens differently than they read paper, and small blocks of text are easier to skim.

Use no more than two typeface families at a time. Pick families with multiple weights; regular, bold, italic, bold italic, for example. Maintain a cohesive overall style by sticking to these two fonts.

Typography on the web is in the midst of a big change. Fonts can be hosted off site and “served up” on your website, allowing you to choose from a broad range of fonts.

Use the posts below for guidance when choosing and combining typefaces:

7 Typographic Resources and 1 Type Joke

Typeface Combinations That Work on the Web

Please Don’t Squeeze the Letters

Why I Hate Verdana

3. Direct Their Eyes with Plenty of Bold Subheads

Web surfers skim pages rather than read them in great detail. Some people think this is a reflection of short attention spans, too much television and widespread Attention Deficit Disorder.

Not me. Here’s what I think: screens are lit from behind. They’re reflective. They’re not the easiest surfaces to gather information from.

Because of this, we skim. We zip down web pages, moving in an “E” pattern from top left to top right, down the page and across again.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with it. It is what it is! You can either fight reality or work with it. I prefer to work with it.

If you want to work with it, too, break up your website copy with plenty of subheads. Spend time making them compelling, and make sure if your reader skims over your article reading just the subheads, they’ll want to dig in and read your whole piece.

4. Use Color To Make It Cozy

You might be a little intimidated by color, but there’s no reason to be. Oh sure, it’s easy to get it wrong, but taking the time to get it right can be one of the best things you do on your website.

Let’s talk website backgrounds, for example. Many people use WordPress as a content management system for their sites, and apply a theme to give it an overall style. This is a great solution, but I see people missing a fantastic opportunity to inject some color and warmth into their sites because they leave the site background white.

I’m not talking about the content area. I mean the background areas around the content. If you leave this white, and your content area is also white, it’s like placing a white piece of paper on top of a white table. The content area doesn’t stand out, and it’s just boring.

There’s nothing wrong with mostly white sites, but if you want a quick injection of personality and warmth, add some color to your background. It will “contain” your content area and make it seem cozy. It won’t be floating in a vast white space with no edges.

You’ll see that your content stands out better, and your website seems more intimate and easier to read.

5. Find Images That Convey a Feeling

A thought-provoking image can draw people into your text like nothing else. If you accompany the image with a caption, that’s even better! Studies have shown that captions are consistently some of the most-read text on a page.

Look for photos that convey a feeling. If you plan to use a photo of a person, try to find one where the person in the photo is making direct eye contact with the viewer.

If the photo has specific “direction,” use the photo’s sight lines to send your readers’ eyes where you’d like them to go.

For more on images, visit these posts:

Don’t Write 1,000 Words, Use an Image

Create Order Out of Photographic Chaos

From Boring to Wow

Your site might not be exactly where you’d like it to be right now. But you can create that “wow” factor by spicing it up with clear navigation, readable content, cozy colors and compelling images.

Are you looking to spice up a boring website? Tell me your plans in the comments!

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