Microtech Redesign- Pg3- Giordan On Graphics | WebReference

Microtech Redesign- Pg3- Giordan On Graphics



Keep it above the fold

For the basic page design, I wanted to move away from the scrolling that seemed to be so prevalent on every page. Long rambling pages are typical of sites where the information is added to incrementally over time. Rather than create a new directory or set of pages, it is much easier to just add text to the bottom of the page. Therefore, almost every page, including the home page, product pages, and informational pages were scrolling down for an additional two or three screens.

I resolved to keep as much critical content as possible on the first screen, keeping scrolling to a minimum. In the print and Web worlds, this approach is known as keeping critical data "above the fold." As a viewer, you want to take in a page all at once, and determine if the data or link you want is on that page. Scrolling takes time and slows down the speed with which people access the data.

I'm going to take this opportunity to voice my opinion on site-mapping JavaScript pop-up menus as well. Microtech was guilty of leaning on the pop-up menu as a crutch to compensate for problems with site organization, and they placed it at the bottom of every page. Designers mistakenly assume that if viewers can go anywhere in the site from a single pop-up menu then other hierarchies of page layout and readability go out the window. This overly pragmatic approach can force the reader to work too hard, and many people will leave prematurely if they are forced to evaluate list after list of cryptic page names, written in that mega-ugly Chicago typeface.

It's the same philosophy as page scrolling. Let people take in the information all at once. Don’t make them pop-up and scroll down a menu. Don’t hide information from the reader's first scan of the page.

The one caveat to this, and I feel that it applies to page scrolling as well as pop-up menus, is when you have a concise set of variables to choose from. A product page that jumps to 10 or 12 data sheets is a good candidate for page scrolling or pop-up text. (And in this case, a pop-up is still preferred to page scrolling). The reader has found the general area they are looking for, and they are keying in on a specific product. Picking it out of a list is an acceptable navigation option in cases like this. Don't make them choose from too many names though, subdivide with dotted lines or subheads if possible.

This is different from making people decide whether or not they are going to go to the support page or the news of the day section from a pop-up menu. There are not enough clues to help the reader make a choice here, and chances are that frustration will ensue. I know I will get emails from people saying that pop-up menus help for repeat visitors and as a jump to other areas of the site…but my opinion is that well placed links and buttons do the same thing, and are more user friendly.

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URL: http://www.webreference.com/graphics/
Created: Dec. 27, 1998
Revised: Dec. 27, 1998