Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Web Site Text and Navigation

Ever been to one of those ever-so-cool (at least that’s what the web master thinks!) sites with colored text on a dark background? Do you find it difficult to read? Don’t worry – it’s not your eyes! So do I. So does everybody!

It is difficult to read!

What about yellow text on a white background? I know some of you are sitting there and thinking “Yeah, sure! Who’d go and use yellow on a white background!” Well it’s true…

I’ve seen it myself – honest!

If you want your text to be read – and this is imperative if you’re selling something – make it easy on the eye. Whatever the color combinations used, dark-colored text on a light background is easier to read than light-colored text on a dark background. You’ll probably get away with breaking the rule for the odd label or note, but that’s all!

Textured backgrounds are the same as dark ones or worse – avoid them. For a business site, black on white or cream, etc., is still the best way to go.

Don’t set your text size too small nor too large – use size 2 or 3 depending on your layout and choice of font.


Keep your main text aligned to the left. Centered text is harder to read, plus it looks messy and unprofessional.

You really don’t want that!

You’re usually OK with center-aligned headlines, at least for the main headings, though subheads may look better if they are also left -aligned.

Choose a sensible font that most surfers will have installed on their system. Include at least one other similar font as a back-up alternative. This can either be included in each of your font tags or in a style sheet, depending on how you prefer to work.

For example, the fonts I choose for are Arial, Helvetica, Verdana and sans-serif, in that order. If the user’s browser doesn’t have Arial installed it will look for Helvetica, if it doesn’t find this it will look for Verdana.

If for some reason the user’s browser is still unable to find the specified font it will look for any font in the sans-serif family (these are all the fonts without – sans – a little ‘foot’ – serif – on the ends of the letters).

Why is all this important you ask?

This way you can be more certain of how your pages will appear to your visitors. You have more control over your image – and that is very important!

Please don’t use more than two, (or if you really need to, three) font faces per page, just because you can. It looks untidy and amateurish. You shouldn’t need to use more than four font styles throughout your entire web site.

Make sure all of your hyperlinks are clear to your visitors. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you need to stick to the conventional link format (usually underlined blue text indicates an unvisited link and underlined maroon or purple text indicates a visited link).

When making your decision, think about your target audience and not your own personal preference.

Text links (links within body text) should be clearly defined from the rest of the surrounding text. If you decide not to follow convention in your choice of colors, use some other means of making your links stand out if at all possible. Some options include the use of bold text, an underline or even an overline.

Have a navigation bar on every page which leads directly to each of the main sections of your site. Break each section of your site into further subsections that fan out from your home page like the branches of a tree.

Think of the supermarket: You pass the checkout on your way in, you pass it again on your way out and it’s always easily accessible from wherever you are in the store. Is your order page this easy to reach?

It should be!

Every big company has an image – it’s logo, colors style etc. Online you need the same. Design a logo and stick with it. Use it on every page of your web site and anywhere else you can.

Keep these elements the same on every page throughout your site:

  • Headings
  • Fonts sets
  • Color schemes
  • Navigation bars
  • Layout (as much as is practicable)
  • Make sure your visitors always know that it’s your site they are on.

    Cultivate a professional image. Your identity. This will help build trust in your potential customers.

    You’ll LOOK the part!

    1999-2000 Azam Corry “Do it Better. Do it Faster. Do it Right!”

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