Written by: Ryan Russell
As a financial advisor we know you’re not a designer, that’s why we’re here to help! It never hurts to refine your creative eye even as you’re working with professionals on building your brand. And believe it or not, sometimes breaking design rules is actually encouraged. However, it’s important to know the rules of design before breaking them in the right way. In our first design series we’re sharing the top five design rules you should never break from our very own co-founder and designer, Ryan Russell.
1. OBTRUSIVE USE OF VIDEO AND AUDIO
Including an autoplaying video and audio on a homepage can often increase cognitive load (the amount of mental effort to accomplish a task). Putting lots of flashing images in the background makes it harder for a users to efficiently locate calls-to-action.
Beyond the added effort for users it’s annoying for viewers (and those around them) to have loud audio unexpectedly streaming from a website while at their desk or while they’re on their phone waiting in line at the bank.
We love video and similar dynamic media, but allow users to click play and devote their attention for a more seamless user experience.
2. TOO MANY TOP LEVEL PAGES
Limit your top-level navigation links to only 3–6 items and create sub-navigation (when necessary) to organize related content (this is called ‘nesting’). This practice creates a much more enjoyable experience for visitors. Adding sub-pages creates the opportunity to bring additional context to those items using micro-copy and media to go into more detail. However, be careful not to put any important information more than 1 click away for a user.
3. MAKING IT DIFFICULT TO GET IN TOUCH
Make it easy for customers to get in touch. If you bury, or neglect to include this information, you’re probably missing out on some great opportunities to serve and connect with visitors. At the very least make sure you have your phone numbers, email addresses, and contact forms easy to find and accessible.
4. ADDING A DOUBLE SPACE AFTER SENTENCES
Disregard what you were taught in your high school typing class – adding a double space after sentences is no longer necessary. The majority of fonts used online today are designed to utilize proportional spacing. This renders the practice of putting two extra spaces after a period superfluous. While that space once improved the readability of text, it’s now unnecessary at best, and limits legibility at worst.
5. JUSTIFIED TEXT
Since we’re on the subject of typography, do everyone a favor and do not justify your text. Justifying text – especially on the web – means spreading out the words on the line to span the whole column. The result is big gaps between the words (called stopgaps). This ultimately makes text harder to read, scan, and comprehend. Besides the obvious reason that big gaps between words interrupt the reading flow, there’s a another reason that flush left text is preferable – it actually makes reading and comprehension easier. While a reader’s eye is scanning each line of type, it’s easier for him/her to find the start of the next line if the lines are of uneven length (this is especially true for dyslexic readers).
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