I just started reading Steve Krug‘s “Don’t Make Me Think”. I picked it up to improve my own site and while all of his points do not exactly apply to artists’ websites there have been quite a few gems. I highly recommend the book!
- We don’t read pages. We scan them.
- We don’t make optimal choices. We satisfice.
- We don’t figure out how things work. We muddle through.
Users are racing around the web looking for information, always on the search for the next click. They do not read all of your carefully crafted text and get bored with your instructions. Users scan then click, scan then click and if they do not find what they are looking you may loose them to an easier to use web site.
So what can we do?
Krug suggests creating billboards with the following design principles:
- Create a clear visual hierarchy on each page
- Take advantage of conventions
- Break pages up into clearly defined areas
- Make it obvious what’s clickable
- Minimize noise
All of these tips apply to an artist’s website. The site should have a similar appearance through out all its pages with the content area in the same spot on each page and a clear visual hierarchy. Conventions such as names of different areas of the site (e.g. bio or about for info on the artist) or the look of clickable items (i.e. text or buttons) should be followed. The only reason to break these conventions is if you are improving on them.
However all of Krug’s advice does not necessarily apply to an artist’s site. For instance his third law of usability “Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what’s left” should not always be followed on an artist’s site. Sure any “small talk” should be removed from the site but many artist’s sites are mostly images and without enough text it may be hard for search engines to understand what the site is about. All pages with images should include information about the artist and the work of art. Do not cut this down! Also each image should have an alt attribute defined with similar information so the images can be found in image searches.
My site typically does not have enough text! To the right is an example of a page with this informational text but I have not been consistent in adding these descriptions to all of my work.
I definitely have a bit of work to do on my site as I make my way through this book. I’m sure there will be another post or two on the topic!