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Fonts as a Design Element, Part 2

Enhancing site readability

You want people to read the useful content provided on your site. Aside from your choice in font family, there are additional things you can do to improve the readability of your text.

 

As a designer, one needs to decide how or whether to mix and match fonts. Most of the time, one typeface will do, especially if it’s one of the workhorses with many different weights that work together. If we reach a point where we want to add a second face to the mix, it’s always good to observe this simple rule: keep it the same, or change it a lot — avoid incremental, meaningless variations.

 

Font size

Now that you’ve chosen your fonts, it’s time to establish the size of your main body text, headings, sub-headings, and other text elements. Suggested font sizes for these text elements are:

  • Text: 10px or 12px
  • Main Headings: 14px, 16px or 18px
  • Sub-Headings: 12px or 14px
  • Captions: 8px, 9px or 10px

Better though is to use relative measurements like % or em. Relative measurements allow anyone to increase or decrease the size to one they find more readable. It’s a good idea for accessibility to assist those with poorer eyesight. Books have come in oversized print for years for a reason. Not everyone can read smaller print. Be kind and allow visitors to resize your text.

1.0em should be equivalent to 16px.  Most people find a font size of about 14px or 0.90em to be comfortable to read, but everyone has different preferences. To be on the safe side, set your default font size to something between 0.8em and 1.0em (12px – 16px) and then let your visitors adjust the size to their wishes.

Contrast

One essential thing is the contrast between the color of your text and the color of the background behind it. The more the two contrast, the easier the text will be to read. Black text on a white background will always be best, but it’s ok to use different colors. Just make sure your text color stands out against your background color.

Line length

Line length is another issue in readability. Too many words on one line make it hard to follow a block of text. With the increase in fluid designs and the lack of support for the max-width property in Internet Explorer, more and more sites are displaying long lines of text that are difficult to read. You can usually get away with a long line of text online than in print, but try to keep those lines from getting too long. 60-70 characters ought to be the maximum.

Your font choices, font size, contrast, and line length will make a huge difference in the readability of your site. And a sure way to lose visitors is to provide content they have trouble reading. How to manage your use of fonts You can add style and interest to your text by using “attributes.” These stylistic elements introduce variety and help you better convey your message. The most common font attributes are plain, bold, italic, underline, capitals, and color. When used, these elements become part of your site’s overall design. If used sparingly, they can be effective. When overused, your page can look cluttered and unprofessional. Be consistent when applying attributes, and always remember that “less is more.”

  • Plain: Use for main body text on white or light backgrounds and large headings.
  • Bold: Use for emphases, such as headings and sub-headings, keywords, and small blocks of words. Use sparingly.
  • Italic: Use for emphases, such as keywords, quotes, photo credits, captions, and titles. Too much italic is difficult to read, so use sparingly.
  • Capital letters: Use basic rules of grammar in applying capital letters in your text. Avoid using all capital letters except for concise words.
  • Underline: I totally avoid using underlines on web pages because underlined words can be confused with links.
  • Color: Use color sparingly to attract attention, emphasize a word, or select a group of words. Make sure your color choices complement your overall web design.

Research and apply the results

Consider the message you want your site to convey. Look at other websites in your industry that appeal to you and see if you can recognize the fonts. [Author’s note: Right-click on a page and choose “View source” to find out if you are right. Use the Edit/Find commands and look for “font.”] Chances are they will use one of the fonts from the recommended shortlist. When you view your site as an image, fonts are simply part of the overall “look” of the site.  Remembering this will help you better decide which font will fit best with your site.  In simple terms, do you like it?  Does it convey the right feeling for the subject matter?  One of the more interesting ways to explore fonts is to look at what fonts are used on some of your favorite sites and ask yourself why you like them.

  • Facebook: font-family:”lucida grande”,tahoma,verdana,arial,sans-serif
  • LearnWebDevelopment: Droid Sans, a Google sans serif typeface
  • Fox News: Lora, a Google serif typeface
  • Gmail: font-family:Arial,sans-serif
  • nytimes.com: font-family:Georgia,”times new roman”,Times,serif
  • Wikipedia: font-family:sans-serif
  • PragmaticWebDesigner: font-family:Tahoma,Arial,Helvetica,Sans-serif

You’ve done your research and have chosen your font(s). How did you arrive at your decision? Is it a factor of the rest of the page design? Why are there so many variations on these websites? What defines readability?

Dr. John Elcik is a Pragmatic Web Designer. He is passionate about the application of web technologies to marketing communication issues. His specialties include web design, social media, and customer relationship management technologies. His search for the “right” font has been a pragmatic one. It has never been about looking for something unique and distinctive that expresses his particular aesthetic taste. Rather, “appropriateness” is the acid test that guides his choice of font. His favorite fonts are: Takoma, among the san serif, faces for body text, and Georgia, among the serif faces for headings. Typefaces that have several weights (light, regular, bold, etc.) and/or cuts (italic, condensed, etc.) work are good choices to become your personal “workhorse.”

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Effective Web Design

Building your online business takes more than just having a nice-looking website. You need to use proven methods of bringing customers to your company. Fortunately, there are many simple yet powerful secrets that you can employ in your web design, marketing strategy, and all aspects of your business to bring in the most customers without spending a lot of money to do so. Finding your way to online success begins with understanding your business and how to reach the most amounts of potential customers.

The stopping point for many online businesses is generally the lack of knowledge in how best to handle all aspects of their marketing, from solid web design to reaching customers through publishing solid content. Understanding the secrets of making your business more successful starts with a few good tips to get you on the right path.

Effective Web Design

Why do many successful online businesses have similar websites? There is a reason for that beyond what you might believe. One of the simplest yet most effective secrets to creating an effective web design for your business understands that many customers are creatures of habit themselves. Having similar navigating systems means that they don’t have to hunt around to find your products, information, and checkout to pay for the items.

Making your website similar to other successful sites means less effort for customers to find what they want and purchase. It’s amazing just how many sales are lost in the last few seconds because a customer quickly grew tired of having to find the checkout. Keeping things simple and familiar helps you with your sales.

Who Looks at Ads?

A decade or so ago, many people who were getting on the internet would look at every ad, pop-up, and promotional banner that appeared in front of them. Today some programs literally keep many types of ads from appearing at all. And though it seems every web page is still flooded with adverts, they don’t register as much as they had before.

Understanding that the power of ads is not what they once were means using them more creatively in your web design, marketing them with more subtlety when you promote your business on other web pages, and being more skillful in your approach. Ads still work, there’s no question about that, but those that get the most for their ads are generally not the ones who spend the most. They understand how to use them more creatively and effectively.

Content is King

Content is one of the best and simplest secrets to bringing the most customers to your web page. Providing good, solid, informative content turns your online business into a resource, not just a place where customers occasionally drop in to purchase something. Providing good information regularly is vital to bringing in new customers and keeping those who purchased from you before contacting your website.

The few secrets to good web design, advertising, and content scratch the surface of your online business potential.
Pragmatic Web Designer on Effective Web Design

Dr. John P. Elcik, IV
The Pragmatic Web Designer

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Premium Theme Options for the Pragmatic

WordPressAside from the two big players already talked about, there are other places to purchase premium themes. Two of our favorites are Theme Forest and Woo Themes.

Theme Forest

Theme Forest is a marketplace where developers can list their themes for sale. They pay Theme Forest a commission between 30% and 50%, depending on exclusivity and volume of sales.

WordPress themes begin at about $20, but the typical price is $35. Because Theme Forest is simply a marketplace, there is no guarantee that the themes you find there will be of a certain quality, so you need to do your due diligence. Theme Forest does not offer support for the themes they sell – for that you need to go to the developer itself – although they are good about refunds should you run into a problem.

WooThemes

http://www.woothemes.com/

WooThemes is another premium theme vendor. Unlike Theme Forest, WooThemes develops their own themes, so the quality is consistent. They also offer a little different pricing structure. All themes are $70 each, and with that, you have a license to use that theme on as many sites as you like. Or for $150 you also receive the layered PSD files for easy customization.

If you have a lot of sites, though, or are a WordPress developer, the best option is to sign up for their Theme Club Subscription. The signup fee is either $125 or $200 (depending on if you opt for a developer membership or not), plus $20 – $25 each month. This gets you instant access to all 100+ themes WooThemes currently offers, plus 2 new themes each month.

In addition, if you choose the developer option, you’ll also receive the complete PSD files for every theme you download, making it a simple thing to completely update the theme and make it fit the style of your blog or website.

Premium Theme Options for the PragmaticWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: jelcik@identityXperts.com.

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Why Should You Hire A Web Designer?

There are a lot of online entrepreneurs who start their businesses with minimal cash upfront. They run the whole business themselves, from finding or creating a product, developing a market strategy, and getting the site online and running. As the company begins to grow, the business owner may find that their original site has become inadequate for the organization’s needs; they may need to dedicate a few days to expand the website.

Shoestring Budgets

If this sounds familiar to you, then you’re likely one of the people who started an online business on a shoestring budget. After having done everything on your own since the start, it can be hard to accept that you might need some help – and you might be loathed to pay someone to do something you can do yourself.

Save Money

But when hiring a web designer for your site, you aren’t just passing the “dirty work” on because you don’t want to do it. The truth is that you can save money by paying someone else to do the work for you. They get to worry about all the annoying details that slow you down and are responsible for making sure that everything is up to your standards. While they’re working, you’re free to work more on marketing and other aspects of your business.

And remember, a website designer is a professional, and designing for the internet is their specialty. When you let them handle your web designs, any problems you come across later won’t be a problem for you – they’ll fix them for you. And instead of you spend hours and hours trying to figure out some hidden error, they’ll know what’s behind the problem and get it fixed quickly.

Look Better, More Professional

And unless you’ve studied web design, the chances are that a web designer can make your site look better and more professional than you would, simply because they’ve got more experience with it. It makes sense – they have to do an excellent job because their reputation depends on it.

By hiring someone to do your web design, you aren’t just working hard – you’re working wisely to help your business grow.
Hire the Pragmatic Web Designer

Dr. John P. Elcik, IV
The Pragmatic Web Designer

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Tips for Pragmatic Web Site Design

Pragmatic offers website design, graphic design, website hosting and search engine optimization
A website functions as the main headquarters for your online business, so it only makes sense that you want it to be both functional and enticing. That means sticking with the best possible principles of design to make it appealing to a wide range of persons. Here are a few tips for making sure your site rates high from the user’s perspective.

First impressions do count! The homepage must be the most appealing page on your site. Make the site navigation system as clear as possible. Visitors should be able to find their way around your site with ease. Avoid complicated flash menus; you want your navigation to be simple enough for a child to understand. If visitors aren’t able to find what they’re looking for in less than 5 seconds, they’re likely to go elsewhere.

While we’re talking about navigation, simplicity is key. Make sure that site users can easily see where they are on your site. If they’ve browsed themselves down a few levels deep, you want them to be able to see where they are to avoid confusion. Site search is a very important element on a website to add a search text field placed on the top of the web page.

Create a unique, trusting relationship with your visitors. Add testimonials from satisfied clients. Add contact information to your site footer so that visitors can easily find it. Provide a physical address, phone and e-mail options. Anticipate information like pricing that they need and make it easy to find. Transparency is good for your business.

Go easy on colors and images. Do not use more than 2-4 colors when designing to look professional. Consider using the logo’s color palate. Also keep in mind that your site will load more quickly with fewer pictures, which means potential customers are more likely to stay on the page. Any images that must be on the page should be optimized for size using an image editor. Make the image file size as small as possible to speed up your site load time.

Be careful with the length of pages. Big blocks of text are uninviting to readers. Seeing a solid wall of text on a page is one of the quickest ways to get a visitor to head off to another website. Instead, use clear headings and break your text up into smaller, easier-to-read paragraphs and you’ll find that visitors are more likely to actually read your content.

Always check compatibility across all the major browser platforms. Obviously, appearance is important. Your website might look perfect in Firefox, but if it looks bad on Chrome and Opera, visitors will be hitting the back button – meaning you’re losing out on potential earnings.

Do you know what a splash page is? These are those pages you see on many websites that have some pretty picture and the words “Click Here to Enter Site”. Avoid the flashy splash page! They are a waste of your bandwidth and a time waster for the visitors to your page. When someone comes to your page, they want to see the value right from the start, not fancy graphics.

Avoid using an overabundance of banner ads on the header and sidebars of your site. Most people don’t pay them any attention, anyway – in fact, it’s been shown that as the internet matures, web surfers are developing “banner blindness”, where they simply don’t notice banners anymore. You’ll be better off supplying your followers with epic content that has relevant text links to your affiliate offers.

Finally, think long and hard about using audio on your site – and then just say no! There are two big reasons for this. First, many people do their web-surfing at work; unexpected audio can get them in trouble. Secondly, even when surfing at home, people multi-task. They may be watching TV or listening to music while they visiting your site; your choice of music might not be as enjoyable for them as what they were already listening to. What’s more, if they spend more than a couple of minutes on your site – which you hope they do – having the same tune loop over and over can get really annoying. If you absolutely must have audio, make sure that the controls for muting it are easy to find.

Use a sitemap to improve web page navigation and also search engine optimization. Listing the pages on a website is a user-friendly feature.

Tips for Pragmatic Web Site DesignWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: jelcik@identityXperts.com.

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Getting Started in Web Design

Pragmatic offers website design, graphic design, website hosting and search engine optimization
Learning enough web design to build a website can seem very intimidating if you’ve never done it before. But if you’re able to find your way around the internet and use word processing programs, then you should be able to create your own website.

The mistake that most novice web designers make is in trying to make things too complicated. Even if you know a lot about computing, you should take your time and learn the basics first. If you try to do too much, you’ll end up with a site that looks unattractive to the end users, and may be difficult to navigate. There is a lot of software out there that will help you get started; some of them say things like “have your own site ready to go in minutes!” Frankly, that’s a bit misleading; it takes longer than that to learn how to design a site properly.

One of the best ways to learn is to start with premade website themes that allow you to customize. This is a great way to start with something that is already set up to look good, while still giving yourself the chance to learn HTML and the basics of design.

Getting Started in Web DesignWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: jelcik@identityXperts.com.

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The Basics of Web Design

If you’re looking for a simple definition of web design, you could say that it is the art of creating visually pleasing and functional web pages using various tools. But because there is such a grand variety of tools, one person’s web design may be completely different from another. We can agree, I think, on the fact that there is an art to designing a website. One of the key ingredients to designing a site is understanding the main purpose of the site. Is it going to be a commercial site? Is it going to be an exposition site? Will it be a simple weblog? The purpose of the site will play a large role in determining the best design for it.

Any website design needs to be pleasant to look at and easy to get around on. The site navigation is essential, especially for a commercial site. If your prospective clients or customers can’t find their way around the site easily, they may very well head off to another to spend their money. All websites are, in some way, an effort to gain an audience for a business, a product, or a person. The design of the site should be representative of that.
Pragmatic Web Designer

Dr. John P. Elcik, IV
The Pragmatic Web Designer

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What is Web Design

Giving an exact definition of web design isn’t really easy because web design encompasses so much. When we’re designing a site for the World Wide Web, we are really looking at five distinct components: the visual component, the content of the site, the technology (often called “the back end”), delivery (via a web browser) and the site’s purpose. Finding a balance between these five components and deciding how they should mix changes with each designer’s opinion and, in fact, with each site. It’s always important to find a balance between the appearance of a site and how well it functions.

While we all want our sites to be modern and attractive to the person looking at it, it also needs to be user friendly and easy to navigate. Depending on the site’s purpose, ease of use may be of slightly less importance than appearance or vice versa. For example, if your site is created to display artwork, then the appearance of your art will be of vital importance. On the other hand, if your site sells kitchen supplies, you need absolute ease of use for potential customers as your foremost priority.
Pragmatic Web Designer

Dr. John P. Elcik, IV
The Pragmatic Web Designer

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The Power of Social Network Marketing


When you have a business, your goal is to make a profit. Often, earning that profit involves offering a product or service for sale. But how do you let prospective customers know that you have a product for sale? They can’t buy it, after all, if they don’t know about it. That’s why most business owners find it necessary to advertise.

However, many business owners shy away from advertising; you might even be shuddering at the thought already! The high price of advertising is one reason why so many dread having to deal with it. After all, the idea is to make a profit, not spend money! The good news is that it is possible to advertise without spending money. While it may take some cash investment to get your business to the level that you wish, you can promote your products and services without spending any money at all.

Suppose this is piquing your curiosity, then good! It takes an agile mind and an adventurous heart to run a business! One of the easiest ways to promote your business is online – and you can do it without spending a penny. Online social networking websites are readily available at no cost, and millions of people are using them. Almost everyone who has the internet available to them is a member of at least one of these sites.

Now, when you think of social networks, you most likely think of connecting and reconnecting with friends and family. While personal relationships are more frequently seen, social networking has become a huge advantage for businesses. Some social networks are exclusively for business. If you have a small business, especially an online business, there are several ways that you can use these sites to increase your traffic and sales.

While most social networking sites are more focused on developing friendships and relationships, as we mentioned, some are designed primarily for business. You can use these sites to build relationships with other business owners by sharing your information and interests. By building relationships with other business owners with similar interests, you can gain valuable contacts that can lead to increased business opportunities. At the very least, you’ll make friends that you can share your concerns and bounce ideas off.

While social networks like LinkedIn are a great way to connect with other business owners, that doesn’t mean that other social networking sites can’t be great for promoting your business as well. Even though Facebook and Google + may have originally had personal interaction as their focus, they both have very active business pages that can be used to interact with your clients and prospective customers.

When joining one of these online networking sites, you’ll first create a profile for yourself, giving you a profile page. Be careful when creating your personal profile; people who use these sites for personal friendship and relationships dislike feeling like someone is marketing to them. Use your personal profile page to meet new people. But once you’ve got your personal page, you can create business pages separate from your personal contacts. Everything you do on your business page can be “shared” on your personal page without directly marketing it towards your friends.

When you join a social network site, you create the opportunity to generate a lot of interest in your product or services. That makes the time you spend on social networks worth it! Look for people to connect with that will help you grow. The generated interest that you create in your business will translate into more focused traffic, translating into sales.
Social Media

Dr. John P. Elcik, IV
The Pragmatic Web Designer

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How to Maximize Sales Using the Internet

Web DesignMost of us involved in the internet or online marketing understand the correlation between traffic and sales. The more people who visit your site, the more sales you’re going to have.  But just getting traffic to your site isn’t always enough to grow your sales. It’s important to be sure that you’re doing everything you can to maximize sales that you get from the current traffic you have, and to make sure once someone has visited, they keep coming back.

How to get the sale

First of all, rethink how you sell to your customers. Instead of giving a hard sell, always keep in mind how you can best benefit your reader.  People are more likely to buy from someone they trust, so write your sales copy as if you were trying to tell a friend about a great product. It will make the reader feel as if you’re talking directly to them.

After you’ve made some sales, try to get testimonials or reviews from your customers. It’s important to put a variety of comments; include the bad with the good. If all you’ve got are string after string of positive comments, it looks phony. The important thing is that people are more likely to trust buying from you when they see that other’s have.  It’s called the “bandwagon” syndrome – everybody wants to jump on it!

Use enticing images of your product, showing it in use if possible. When people see something being used, it makes them think of how they could use it for themselves, giving them more incentive to buy.

If you can, offer bonuses for the purchase of your products. Let people see the monetary value of the bonus; they’ll feel more like they’re getting more value for their money.

Don’t forget to ask for the sale! I’ve seen so many sites that have beautiful copy that lists benefits of the product, great bonuses, and lots of convincing testimonials – and then never tells the visitor “Click Here to Buy!” People have a tendency to do what they’re told; it’s human nature. When you see a big red button that says click here – you’re likely to click it! It’s also important that you make it very clear what they need to do to purchase. Make sure the link is big and obvious.

Keep them coming back

Once you’ve made the sale, you want to make sure you don’t lose contact with the customer. If they’re happy with their purchase, they’re more likely to buy from you again. Even if someone hasn’t purchased from you before, if you can get them to return to your site over and over, you’re much more likely to make a future sale. Don’t let these potential customers slip away!

A frequently updated blog on your site is one way to keep them coming back. Talk about issues that are important to your customers; talk about updates to the product, new ways to use it, or new products that they might be interested in. But not just that; if applicable, talk about yourself and let them know there’s a real person out there behind what you’re selling. They’re more likely to trust you, which means they’re more likely to buy your products.

Another way to keep people connected is by way of a forum. This is a very effective way of bringing people back to your site and keeping them engaged. It also gives them an easy way to talk directly to you about questions about your products, which increases the trust factor like nothing else.

While increased search traffic is always a worthwhile goal, optimizing your sell rate and increasing customer loyalty are ways to maximize your income without relying too heavily on the search engines. It’s the threefold approach that will lead to your success.

How to Maximize Sales Using the InternetWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: jelcik@identityXperts.com.