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A Few Random and Useful Web Site Tips

Written by Ryan Ambrose  · April 29, 2009

Over my time online, I’ve created a few web sites and optimized them. Over, and over, and over again. In my occasional misadventures with them, I’ve picked up on a few things which can make your visitors happy, or drive them away in irritation.

Here are a few handy things to know in that regard, in no particular order.

  • Your text can be too wide. Yes, too wide. Overweight, portly, stretching-too-far-across-the-screen wide. Comfortable reading width maxes out at around 750 pixels or so. Personally, I try to keep text widths within 700 pixels at most. This doesn’t mean your whole site has to be that wide, but no block of text on it should be any wider. If you’ve seen a sales letter site, you’ve seen this principle in action.
  • If your text is too small to read, no one will try before they leave. I like 12-14 point for main content text, and 10 pt at the very, very minimum. If your sidebars require smaller text, get wider sidebars.
  • Images are good, but all things in moderation. If you have so many of them on a site it takes forever to load, they’re not going to do you any good. If you do have a fair number of images, as with a magazine-styled site, try to keep them small so they load quickly.
  • Multimedia works better than text alone. Try text and a picture or two, or text and a video, or text and some audio. Again, all things in moderation due to load times, but if you can, embellish your text.
  • Automatic audio loads on site start-ups are really irritating. If you’ve ever landed on a site with automatic music, you’ve experienced this for yourself. Don’t use it. If you use audio, give the visitor control over it.
  • If you want to put pictures in your background, you can make cool backgrounds with small repeating images. I’ve seen an entire site background done with a simple 5px by 5px image that seamlessly blended into every image around it.
  • Never write over images. Gradients are the only exception to this rule. No matter how much transparency you apply to anything else, though, writing over images it is going to look bad.

Learn from my blunders. Use these tips to help make your site a much better place to visit.

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My name is Ryan Ambrose, and I’m one of the co-authors of Can I Make Big Money Online.

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3 Responses to “A Few Random and Useful Web Site Tips”

  1. meaghan on May 11th, 2009 5:02 pm

    Very helpful. Thanks for the advice!

  2. TriNi on May 11th, 2009 9:21 pm

    Great post!

    I’ve been working alot on my site as well, tweaking here and there ever so often, and I’ve encountered quite a few of the problems you mentioned… too many images, loading times etc.

    I’ve managed to find a fair balance I believe, but I’m still always working on improving it.

    Thanks for the tips about the text width, I didn’t know that before.

    Keep up the great work!


  3. Austin Dreier on September 30th, 2009 8:39 pm

    Oh and the text width tip was great! never thought of it. im RSSing you