Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Website Readability

Dale King, a member of StartUp Nation (a website by and for entrepreneurs) wrote this great article about putting together a readable website. I pass these valuable tips along exactly as he wrote them.

During the course of a day, I often visit many websites, both for business purposes and pleasure. More often than not, I find websites that have poor readability. What do I mean by poor readability? Here are the five most common readability faux pas I come across:

1. White or light text on a black or dark background. This is a readability no, no. Why? This is called text in low-contrast, and research has shown that text in low contrast irritates the reader and causes eye fatigue. Instead, use contrasting colors like black or dark text on a white or light-colored background. This is easier on the eyes, and much more reader-friendly.

2. Huge blocks of text. Readers of web pages are notorius scanners, so break up your text into shorter, bite-sized paragraphs. There's nothing worse than trying to read a paragraph that seems to never end. Most people won't even bother to try. They'll just click away and leave your site. Also, use bullets and subheads whenever possible.

3. Tiny text. Stay away from using tiny font sizes that make people squint or requires bifocals to read. Stick with 12pt font whenever possible. Or at the very least 10pt font. Conversely, don't use overly large font sizes either. And use all-capitalization sparingly.

4. Fancy fonts. Whenever possible use regular or standard font types such as Times Roman, Arial or Verdana. Try to stay away from hard to read fancy fonts, such as Italic, Comic Sans or any type of cursive fonts.

5. Too much clutter. So many websites I visit look like someone's attic. Clutter, clutter and more clutter. Have you ever visited a website that was so cluttered, your eyes didn't know where to begin to look? Do you know what I do when I come across a website like that? Instead of hanging around trying to figure things out, I leave. Don't over-crowd your webpages with text and graphics. Less is more. I personally live by the motto, "White space is a good thing!"
There are of course many other things you can do to make your website more readable. I will cover those in another article.

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