Focus: the basis of every good web page

While reading ‘Learning to see creatively’, a book on photography by Bryan Peterson, it occurred to me how many similarities there are between a good photograph and a good web page.

Focus!

A few quotes by Peterson:

  • “Amateurs often end up with pictures that have too many points of interest. The resulting lack of direction and subsequent confusion alienates the eye, forcing it to move on, seeking satisfaction elsewhere.”
  • “Without order you have chaos. With chaos comes stress. With stress comes the inability to perform well.”

Very true. For photographs and for websites.

Bad web pages have too many focus points. Visitors don’t know where to look. They’re confused and go back to Google to find someone else who’s got what you’re selling.

I can’t begin to tell you how often we see people during user tests who simply don’t know where to look on a webpage. Overcrowded pages drown out the important information in such a way that people effectively do not see it.

Less is more

For a travel brochure Peterson was told to take a picture that said ‘Amsterdam and the Netherlands’.

  • 1st attempt (top left)
    Flowers, bicycles, a canal and pigeons (Peterson fed the pingeons to make sure they stayed put). Result: too many focus points. Messy.
  • 2nd attempt (top right)
    No more pigeons. Trying to clean up the background by way of a passing tram. Result: still too busy.
  • 3rd attempt (bottom)
    A radically different point of view, focussing on the basics: tulips, bicycles and the calming water in the background. Result: a beautiful photograph with maximum impact.

Focus. That’s what every website needs, from the homepage to the detail page. Focus on the things that matter.

Just like Google focuses on the search feature on the homepage, despite the multitude of other tools they have.

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AGConsult has been helping companies and government agencies with finding their online focus since 2001.
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