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Web Graphics Guide

The look and feel of your web site will give an immediate impression to the visitor, but the layout and contents of your articles will also contribute to the appearance and usefulness of each page. As an editor, the page contents and layout are your responsibility.

Reading web pages

Web pages are read differently from books or magazines, largely because people visit a web site with a specific purpose in mind. Your site visitors are trying to acquire facts, and your layout and content should aid them in this.

Research into how users read web pages has provided the following findings:
  • Visitors scan web pages, trying to pick out a few sentences or even fragments of sentences to get the information they want.
  • Visitors do not like long, scrolling pages: they prefer the text to be short and to the point.
  • Visitors prefer factual information to marketing fluff or overly hyped language.

Writing for the Web

The three factors to bear in mind when writing web pages are therefore to keep the text concise, scannable and objective:

Concise - Cutting out content is difficult as a balance has to be struck between keeping useful information and making the page fast and easy to read. Large amounts of text will deter a user from reading and long scrolling pages are particularly unappealing, so overly detailed information may need to be cut. If more detail is useful then this can be provided through a link to a separate article so users can choose to investigate further.

Scannable - Users don't read web pages, they scan them, so it is important to summarise and call attention to important pieces of text. Section summaries are useful, as are layout devices such as bullets or numbered lists, bold text, additional headings, and short paragraphs

Objective - Remove unnecessary words (like repeated use of "great") along with buzzwords such as "paradigm" - often they do not convey useful information but add to the length of the text.

Consider your readers

It is important to remember your target audience when writing content. Articles in the About Us section of the web page will be read by those who are finding out about your organisation for the first time, so do not make assumptions as to what they do or do not know. Conversely, articles that are aimed towards your membership should not patronise their intelligence.

Web Graphics

Quality images make a huge difference to the appearance and usability of a web site. A bland page of text will put users off. Well selected images will help to break up the text, making it more readable and adding visual interest.

Remember that each image means the page takes longer to download, so too many images should be avoided. Resizing an image to the desired size and proportions, and making sure you use the correct graphics format (jpeg for photos, gifs for logos) will also make sure the page is not slower than is necessary. It will also ensure that the graphics are of a good quality.

For more information on adding images for the web see our support article here.

Images should relate to and support the message of the body text.

Graphic Resources

Building up a library of quality photographs may take some time, so it is useful to be able to draw upon stock images to enhance the interest of your pages. Royalty free images can be expensive - however there are several sources on the web that provide cheap or even free images, often of a good standard. Please see the article on Tips for using photos on your church website for some lists of free resources.

You can encourage members with photographic skills to develop a gallery of pictures of activities within your organisation, so that over time you will develop an image library that reflects your community well. You may know people who already have a selection of photographs that you could use on the web site, so ask around for available images of people and activities.