Rosanne Dingli

Rosanne Dingli

Monday, June 20, 2011

Four important website elements

Some things in life are inevitable. One of these things is website renovation: sometimes you just need a facelift. I decided to bite the bullet this week, being long due for a fresh look on a website that has seen a lot of use.

Visitors do not leave a trace on the web - no grubby fingermarks or footprints - but they need to be rewarded with something other than the same old, same old. So I went for burgundy linen and reddish decor, with light backgrounds for text.

Which brings me to the first important element on a website: absolutely fresh, clear crisp text on light backgrounds. Two reasons: fast to load, easy to read. I read a post that declared male readers prefer dark backgrounds - I believe they like to create dark backgrounds, not read the text that's on them. There is no clear distinction between genders when it comes to reading: we all like instant legibility.

I also dispensed with a lot of clutter, which is something I could not bring myself to do at home. Out went some of the pictures, many links, and some useless affiliations that never earned me the money they promised. Rule number two: less is less. It's not more, it's less burdensome. It's lovely and roomy and does not demand anything from the visitor but to enjoy genuine offerings. From me, an author, it's writing, information, and books, books, books.

Reorganization means rationalization: I spent some time figuring what needs to be where. I shifted a few elements because I shifted opinions about how things should be grouped. So news is now all together on one page, as are all my books, free readings, and my links and friends are on one page together. Rule number three: clear navigation. Visitors will not spend time trying to understand your housekeeping. Do it for them by being super-organized. Place things where visitors would expect to find them, and make sure nothing is more than two clicks away. There is nothing more dismaying than a wrong turning online - it exasperates us at the best of times. Back-tracking should be avoided if guests are not to run away to something more simple. Remember - it's so easy to run away on the web. I try not to make it easier than staying.

I do realize people have differing tastes: furnishings, food, reading material ... we all choose varieties of things, and website decor is no different. I tried to avoid pleasing everyone, and allowing my taste to show through. Which is rule four: personality is presence. Do try to be who you are. I like olde-worlde  decor, antiques and collectibles at home. So I tried to make my site reflect my offline taste. Now a visit there will hopefully show visitors my preferences, what I like to look at, and how the images, colours and accessories I choose need to match. Just as I would choose a burgundy scarf to go with a coordinated outfit, I selected and created banners and pictures that I hope are pleasing in the fact that they go together well.

I do hope you will pay a visit - after all, I have done a lot of work in preparation for the next time you pop in to see me. You are very welcome at Rosanne Dingli's Author Website.

How do you feel about changes you find on the web? Do you take kindly to renovations at sites you visit frequently? How often do you change the decor on your home site? Leave your opinions - I'd love to hear them.


  1. I read your post with interest, Rosanne. Mostly, I'd rather websites I like didn't change - same with aisles in the supermarket!

    I had a big website redesign and organise at the beginning of the year and discovered another reason for not changing things - it took me nearly two weeks to populate my website, a use of the word 'populate' I'd not heard before, meaning put in new content.

    After over 50 novels published, the info on my early novels was out of date, and my new novels weren't there, and the web developer wanted photos, and . . . so on.

    Your website looks good both ways. Mine is staying as is for the forseeable future. I can't bear to 'spend' so much writing time again, even though it needed doing and I was delighted with the results.

  2. I think you've renovated well, Rosanne. Everything seems very clearly set out, and I especially like the burgundy background.

  3. Yes, Anna - I resisted change, and when that happens, there's too much to do. But I avoided drastic changes, and everything is really in the right places... just neater.

    Thank you Stephen - I tried to steer away from the web's most popular colours without going fluoro.