The YoungMinds website has a crisp fresh theme appropriate to its subject but as is often the case design themes drift over time in the face of unforeseen content demands. I will be using web annotation software to point out possible tweaks that together will reaffirm the theme more clearly.
These suggestions relate to the original page as it is currently formatted on 4th June 2011 viewed on Firefox 4.0.
My analysis can be broken down into four overlapping categories.
- Visual impression The most urgent change required is to reduce the size of the gigantic logo in order to create the calm and clear whitespace common to good web design and good mental health.
- Logical organisation You can take a tour of lots of problems after the link but first consider the only login button on the whole site lost in the middle of content on the front page. Determined members however may find a text link hidden in the footer on all pages.
- Consistency of styles To get your message across you need clarity, and clarity depends on consistency: a style should always carry the same meaning, usually representing a hierarchy of importance. That rule remains true whatever your medium, even if you are carving hieroglyphics on a rock. Consistency becomes even more impotant on the web where styles convey not only meaning but indicate the secret passageways that we call hyperlinks; back in ancient Egypt they would have disguised hyperlinks but we want people to venture onwards… which is not so straightforward in the following picture.
- Link strategy
The link strategy should reflect the most important difference between print and web: 79% of web-users merely scan text and only 16% read word for word (Oracle, 2011). Content should therefore succinctly provide the user with the words they need without ‘ungoogleworthy’ phrasing such as ‘click here’; hyperlinking these redundant phrases merely adds highlighting to the waste of text that scanning eyes fall upon. Much has been said of the need for links to show users ‘scent’ of where the link will lead them after the click but perhaps the main problem with redundant text is the decrease in readability before clicking is even contemplated.
In conclusion, I would suggest tweaking and tightening up the existing design in order to increase clarity for defined users. The most important areas to focus on are creating whitespace; organising the information in a framework that users can easily access; stripping out inconsistent formatting; and creating identifiable links with ‘scent’.
Time for a spring clean…