I recently came across a website template that’s currently being sold by a very popular web publishing service. The theme of the template is pre-designed to appeal to bar/restaurant owners, and the default layout allows business owners to publish their food and drink menus. The sample photographs used in this demo-site are rich in detail and color. The fonts are clean in appearance.
As a whole, this web template makes a bold first impression.
So, I make up my mind to pay a first-time visit to this imaginary tavern. I call my friend, and together we take an imaginary walk to this make-believe establishment. We sit down at one of the small outdoor tables, and proceed to order drinks. My friend decides to get a glass of Chardonnay, and I order the same. At $11 dollars a glass, we have just enough cash left over to split the Lobster Bolognese entree, and to give the waiter a modest tip.
My friend and I might have had a wonderful evening together, if not for one problem. I realize that I misread the price of the Chardonnay, and as a result underestimated the total cost of the meal. Because of this we end up having very little money left for our waiter’s tip. The waiter gives us a scornful glance.
I decide to never return to, nor recommend, this wretched tavern.
As a consequence of all of this the tavern’s business dwindles, and eventually comes to a halt. The business owner is spotted, several months later, sleeping on the East River beach under the Brooklyn Bridge, a half-emptied bottle of cheap bourbon in his hand.
It’s hard to over-emphasize the impact that good visual design has on a website owner’s business goals. Although the pre-designed website template that I came across is currently being promoted as a starting point for creating an exceptional website, it’s difficult for the average business person to achieve this quality if the visual arrangement of the default text is lacking in clarity.
In particular, the visual arrangement of the text in the template’s drinks list needs some attention. As it is, it looks like it’s $11 for a glass of Chardonnay (see Illustration #1 below). To fix this problem, the width between the three text columns of this list needs to be increased in relation to the width of the text columns themselves. This way, it becomes clear that the Chardonnay is $13 a glass, and not $11 (see Illustration #2 below). This may seem like an obvious step to take to clarify the product (or service) that a business offers. Yet, the Web is full of sites that unintentionally miscommunicate information in this way.
If you, as a business owner, wish to avoid costly mistakes I would recommend paying a qualified graphic designer to take an hour or two to evaluate the clarity of your website’s visual hierarchy.
If you do spend time at the beach, have it be an enjoyable experience.
PS: At your request I’d be happy to send you the link to this popular, but visually unclear, webpage template that I’m referencing in this post.