Going back to the early noughties, Jacob Nielson, well known and respected author and researcher on all things to do with the visual web, declared that people do not actually read websites in a standard linear fashion. He speculated that people tend to skim the page, picking out the bits that resonate with their search.
As you might expect, content creators were then handed a brief to put together their articles which were easy on the eye, and prevented that ever so well used ‘back’ button being utilised. The idea was to use bullet points wherever possible, creating headings and subheadings, and highlighting important phrases and passages in bold.
Web Design Is 95% Typography
Only a few years later, another well known web designer penned an article extolling the importance of an almost innate understanding of typography, on the basis that ‘web design is 95% typography’. Reichenstein went on to say that “A great web designer knows how to work with the text not just as content, he treats text as a user interface.” It was an important statement at the time, but fast forward a few years from that statement, and we have to question to validity of the statement today. A lot would argue that recent trends in web design have meant that words are taking a back seat to pictures.
Some sites of course, benefit enormously from using a good deal of images, but there are a great many sites out there which do away with text for the wrong reasons, and unfortunately take something away from the intended user experience. The problem is often almost enforcing the webpage visitor to scroll almost immediately on reaching the page. So often, you have to scroll down to get the content, which of course tends to be the most important and most easy to take on board message on the page.
Sometimes it is caused by the utilisation of enormous banner ads running the width of the page, and at other times it is the decision by the website to try to draw the reader in with a vast picture at the head of the page.
Are You On Trend?
Often though, it is purely following trend. Pinterest has proven very popular, so much so that Google+ has really aped the style of the page. The reason Pinterest works so well is that it is all about images. Google+ is not, and we end up with a page that is hard to digest and almost unpleasant to look at if you want any detail.
Thankfully, there are still plenty of web designers out there who believe that words are still the bedrock of the web. It’s all about getting the balance right. Yes, there’s been a huge rise in the use of images and video, but there’s always a place for good typography, and there’s very rarely a good reason to encourage the user to scroll down before they have even digested a sentence or two of text!
Adam Livermore is a self confessed web junkie, and is rarely away from a screen of one type or another. If he’s not delving into the murky waters of SEO for Consult 3 he is designing, perfecting, or reshaping websites in a quest to make the web the wonderful place it should be!