There have been a huge change in creative web designs from Mid 90′s to 2011 however the basics of user friendly websites have remained the same over the years. You can view various styles and technology used to convey the information better or rather better than others. Building a websites with rich content is a serious job. Majority of the people are using internet as their most preferred source for information and there for its extremely important to build websites that are easy to use. Here are some pointers that may help you to design content driven user-friendly websites.
Building a layout/Grid
Many times a lot of importance has been given to creative part of the website which consist of colors, photographs, fonts etc. However the most important part of the website is the information architecture.
A good layout/grid requires a lot of planning! You can notice how www.bbc.co.uk has built the website with 3 columns and the content is distributed perfectly. The eyeballs move through the columns easily and the information holds together for users to go through each grid. The structure of content rich website should be started with 3 columns and those columns should be divided into rows. E.g. look at yahoo.com the middle column is divided into various rows and information look well balanced and easy to read.
Consistency is a key for all the aspects of web design. From font, styling, navigation, should be same for all pages including blog etc. Consistency is the major factor that helps users to acknowledge the structure with an ease. So the better structured consistent website will always have longer eye balls to view the important content.
Use of Borders and Boxes
In the content heavy web sites search plays an important role. Search box should be well placed in the web site to ensure that users can make a use of the functionality. It is very common to see search box getting lost in the content rich websites.
It’s important to place the search box on top and ensure that the box is visible using borders and styles that goes with the website.
Search results are equally important aspect that many content rich websites ignore. Various portals display cluttered search results. Its always important to show search results with highlighted search criteria and proper spacing.
Use Minimal Design and Colors
Content rich web sites with slightly more design elements can overshadow the content or information. In such cases white background is the key. It may look dull however once the content is in place it will look good. Backgrounds can damage the goal of the content driven websites. Margins can be used instead of borders to separate images content.
This is the most basic and important thing for a content rich websites. Lot of web designers faces this issue while client insists on the font required for the websites as the major creative requirement. Such requirements you get by people unaware of the web design issues. Not all computers will have the same font so the web site will take the default font and show the website and in these cases web sites look terrible since they are not optimized for the default font. The good news is that now scripts such as Cufon or sIRF could be used to maintain the same font of your desire. However such scripts give problems on old browsers so its best to keep it simple and use the system fonts.
Navigation should be fairly simple to use for content rich web sites. Main navigation and sub navigation should be separated by using either different colors or the size of the text. The best way to do is to make use of brighter colors for main navigation and dull colors for sub navigation. Drop down menus work very well to organize categories and sub categories in stead of using space for sub navigation menu.
These are just few UX tips for content rich website. What is use-friendly for you?