If I were to ask you what the term web design means, what would your answer be?
If you’re like me, the term generally opens the mind’s eye to different color schemes, different layout choices, and a host of other elements that shape and form the way a website looks. However, the more I learn about design and information architecture, the more I realize that perhaps both the architecture and appearance play equal roles in web design. I’ve spent some time lately trying to improve my website. Part of that has been tweaking the visual design, but more importantly, making my best content as easy as possible to find. I’ve had a few goals in mind for a while now, which I think are a good starting point:
- Rather than try to impress with graphics, keep usability the central focus.
- Create better navigation that high-lights some of my better posts.
- Create an original standards-based theme that focuses on my content.
The primary change I’ve made thus far has been in the navigation/sidebar, where my priorities have changed. No longer do I have page navigation in both the sidebar and a horizontal navigation menu. I’ve realized that if I have the horizontal menu above my content, there’s really no need in putting those same links in the sidebar. Not only is it a waste of precious space, but it can also be confusing to someone who doesn’t already know their way around my site. Aside from cutting out duplicate links, I also wanted to bring some of my best content to the forefront.
Possibly, The Most Important Aspect
I decided to bring what I feel are some of the primary articles that bring traffic from search engines toward the top of the sidebar, where they’re much more visible. Perhaps these are my “flagship” posts. Whether calling the list “Best of Antbag” is the best choice, I’m not sure. I’ll be thinking about that one. I think the main point I’m trying to get across here is that “this information gets me the most attention, maybe this is a good place to start”. While the content and the site navigation are by far the most important elements of a website, wrapping that content in something that’s appealing is a huge help in gaining the interest of a visitor.
A Work In Progress
I’m certainly not through analyzing this site and trying to make it the best I can. One major goal of the future is getting my tags and categories organized better, which I think will lead to being able to build a proper sitemap. Presently, I have around 15 different categories on this blog. I would like to have all of my posts broken down into maybe 4 or 5 categories, which would be a nice list to go in the sidebar. It’s all about making the information the site contains, easy to find. I’ve also got to do a major overhaul of my about page, and outline exactly what I have to offer.
What About You?
What are some tips you would share on making a website more “usable”? What role do you think “usability plays in design? Or is design just the theme or appearance of a website? Have your say in the comments.