Starting a Website – Theme and Style

When starting a website, the site design is an important factor to consider. How easy a site is to read, navigate and use are very important to your readers, members and followers. This article will give you tips to use when choosing your website’s theme or style.

First impressions, whether in real life or on the world wide web are the most important. They can make a big difference on the web. If someone comes to your site and can’t read the articles due to some fancy font, can’t fill out the registration as it’s too complex, or can’t navigate to find things they need then they won’t stay or come back.

Your theme can make all the difference in the world to new readers and members. Sure, a fancy font looks cool and dressy but if no one can read the content of your site then it’s useless. Save the fancy fonts for artistic endeavors and use a plain, easily read font. My author site uses the simple “courier new” font as it’s easy to read and is on most computers.

I gravitate towards dark, dramatic colors. I just find them great to use in art. However, they can be detrimental to a website if used in the wrong place such as the main background. A dark color can cause eye strain when trying to read blogs, forums, activity feeds and comments. Save those for areas such as photos and videos where you need a bit more of a dramatic flair. Keep your posting areas lighter and easy on the eyes. Your members will have a much easier time and stay longer.

Dark colors can also be fine in menus, buttons, headers, footers and small areas that need a bit more emphasis.

Be careful with bright, neon colors. Again, this can cause eye strain and some people get headaches when looking at neon colors for too long. This will definitely thin your user base or readership. Keep the bright colors to a minimum. If you find that you get eye burn from looking at your site when setting it up, then your readers will to. Do a lot of experimenting on your site if using more dramatic colors in your theme/style.

Flashing objects can be fun but they can cause seizures for those with some medical condition. Keep that to a minimum if you use it at all. I used to like having animated emoticons on my site until a member complained due to seizure issues. If you do want them, try to keep them in an area where you have a warning for those that could be impacted.

I can recall at Christmas I had snow on my site. It was great and users loved it until they noticed my site was causing their computers to slow down and in one case it locked up completely. Remember your members any time you add something to the site that you may think looks great.

Keep your site easy to use and navigate. Putting blocks with content all over the site can get confusing. When making your theme, try to keep it simple so that the user can easily see what to pay attention to and isn’t overwhelmed.

Ads may not be part of a theme but they are part of the site aesthetics. Keep ads to a minimum – or none at all on a new site. On a more established site, you still don’t want to overwhelm users with a bunch of ads. Especially animated ads – those can cause a lot of resource usage on the user end of things so try not to overload them.

We hope you’ve found this article helpful. It’s part five in our Starting a Website series. You might want to print out each tutorial and use them as a checklist when planning and setting up your website. If you have any questions, feel free to ask at our ScriptTechs forum.