Tag Archives: Web Design

The C.R.A.P. Principles

C.R.A.P. (terrible name, infinitely useful) is an initialism which stands for contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. The term was coined by Robin Williams (author of The Non-Designer’s Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice) and has become a basic principle of design. Utilizing the C.R.A.P. principles allows even the most inexperienced amateur designers to avoid the dreaded wall of text and instead create dynamic and attractive web content.

The basics of the C.R.A.P. principles are:

Contrast – Elements that aren’t supposed to be the same should be very different. Making the only slightly different confuses the eye and causes the reader to see a relationship that doesn’t exist. Using differing elements on a page draws the eyes to appropriately grouped elements and allows for proper scanning.

Repetition – Continuing formatting and styles for the entire document to create and maintain a cohesive feel.

Alignment – Everything on the page needs to be visually connected to something else, nothing should be out of place or distinct from all other design elements. Clean lines create peace.

Proximity – Proximity creates related meaning: elements that are related should be grouped together, whereas separate elements should have enough space in between to be easily distinguishable. Never underestimate the use of white space.

For more information and examples, visit:

“F” is for functionality

What do users see when they see your website?

According to a study conducted last year by the Nielsen Norman Group, they see a big F. The study, which used special eyetracking equipment to measure how much users looked as specific parts of a web page, showed users tended to view sites in a pattern that looks roughly like an “F,” scanning across the top and down the left-hand side. In addition, they spent almost no time looking at large images, banner ads, or other graphic content. In fact, they often skipped over meaningful content if it looked too much like an ad.

What does this mean for your site design?

Never forget that your customers come to your site looking to solve a problem. They want to buy a product, or find out information. It doesn’t mean that they are indifferent to design — a poorly designed site can look unprofessional, undermining confidence in the solutions you offer. However, design should never get in the way of the functionality of your site. It should never be difficult for your customers to find the solutions they are looking for.

Design enhances functionality. But functionality always comes first.

Ref: Eyetracking Study

Websites are not like Field of Dreams

If your website is not producing it is not your fault. Blame Kevin Costner. Websites are not like “Field of Dreams”. Just because you built it does not mean “they will come”. A website is the single most powerful arrow in a quiver full of marketing weapons, but it will not do any good – no matter how creative or informative it is – if it cannot be found.

As a marketer, I often have the opportunity to discuss promotion ideas with clients. It still amazes me at how many otherwise intelligent business people do not see much value in their websites.

They promote their business in various ways sometimes spending serious money to purchase ads in traditional media but do not give a second thought to sending prospective customers to their website for more information. There are many effective and inexpensive ways to promote your website without ever being connected to the Internet.

A website can only be effective if the “webmaster” not only places relevant content on it, but also promotes it. I have compiled a quick list of things and places that a website should be listed offline, there are dozens if not hundreds more, feel free to post ideas of your own.

The first place your website should be promoted prominently is on any printed marketing material you have. i.e. your letterhead, business cards, flyers, brochures, catalogs, yellow page ads, etc. If you have company vehicles with marks on the vehicles, place your website URL proudly and boldly so it is easy to see. Get and use domain based email. Email from name@companyname.com is more powerful in building consumer confidence that your company is legitimate.

Don’t forget to place a link on your email address even if you have domain based email. Why? Many times your email correspondence will be forwarded to someone who is not familiar with you or your company. Placing a link to your website allows that person to visit your website even if your email address is not displayed when forwarded.

If you attend trade shows, make sure your booth has your URL listed and any handouts including promotional give-a-ways include your URL.
Mention that more information can be found on your website on any Radio advertising and include the URL in television marketing as well.

Magazines typically have a longer shelf life than many other forms of advertising. If you use magazine to advertise your company and you are not including the URL you have lost a great opportunity to speak to a prospective buyer in a much broader and effective way than to demand that they pick up the phone can call you.

If your website is not producing the results you expected, it is time to take a look at what is being communicated on and by your website and what you are doing to help drive traffic to your website. If you are not promoting your website every chance you get including at the end of an “elevator speech” you are missing opportunities to allow others to help you promote your business.

Web 2.0 Design : more than shiny buttons?

Type the phrase "Web 2.0 design" into Google. What do you get? A bunch of tutorials on how to use Photoshop to create shiny, shiny buttons.

Does that mean that you can enter the land of Web 2.0 by taking your existing website and adding glossy buttons, rounded corners, gradient backgrounds, and graphics that look like they are reflecting on a wet surface?

Not exactly.

The term "Web 2.0" was coined for a conference in 2005 as a catch-all to describe post-2001 trends in web development.

It is easy for people to latch onto surface texture – like shiny buttons – but the reality is that many web design trends of the past few years are the result of underlying changes in how the web works and how it is used. Greater browser support for CSS design standards has expanded what kinds of designs can be implemented. The trend toward dynamic and interactive websites has pushed designs to be more flexible and to have clearly defined sections. And, as people increasingly use the web as a platform for social connections, business collaboration, and research, websites that are functional and easy to use become more important.

Shiny buttons aside, here are some design concepts that might be considered Web 2.0:

1. Simplicity

Minimalistic Google sets the tone for this concept, but many other sites have followed suit. Simplicity doesn’t mean bare-bones, although it can. It means that site elements are organized logically and obviously, so that it is easy for a casual visitor to instantly grasp what the site is about.

Modern websites have a lot more going on than websites of the past, and it’s crucial to corral all that visual activity in such a way that it doesn’t turn into a big mess.

2. Personality

For a while back in 1997, web designers seemed to have the idea that being cold and a little dull was the best way for a small company to communicate professionalism. (Don’t forget the stock photographs of serious-looking people in business attire!)

The best modern websites have a strong design personality and communicate a sense of fun. Bold icons, humor, splashes of bright color, cartoons, distinctive visual textures or illustrations — all of these have a place.

3. Attractive calls to action

A "call to action" is a marketing concept: essentially it means telling people in no uncertain terms what exactly it is that you want them to do. In marketing, of course, the thing that you want people to do is something that directly gets you money. "Buy now!" or "Call us today!"

Calls to action on the web include not only standard marketing, but also how to use elements that are free to the user — "Watch kittens frolic" or "Download our free software" are both calls to action.

The best calls to action feature both a visual iconic element, and a text element. These two aspects work together for instant recognition.

And yes, calls to action can include shiny buttons.