24 March 2010

The value of screen real estate

It's been a while since I've perused a Neilsen article, but this one popped up today and it seemed pertinent re my current redesign project:

Amusingly, the article requires scrolling to read in full, and just as Jakob predicted, I spent about 80% of my attention on what I first saw, and just scrolled down through the rest.
The reason the article stuck with me is because I bothered to read the last gem of a point, "Finally, while placing the most important stuff on top, don't forget to put a nice morsel at the very bottom". Excellent.

So, in the visual design course at uni I learned about page structure, and the bottom of the page being reserved for detail etc. But if people have short attention spans and loathe clicking through page views (as per Neilsen's article), how do you get the information to them? Is it just a matter of banging out a couple of succinct key points at the top to hook them into reading on? Or do we need to just keep everything that's not a novel, short and sweet? And then the big catch - how do you convince the client that this is the way to go ;-)

The other conundrum is - what constitutes the size of the first page view? People are using all sorts of devices, from full monitor screens, to laptops, notebooks, not to mention mobile devices, to view pages these days. I'm in the process of converting my mock-ups for the LIF2 redesign project (see the Planet J@net blog) - what I get to see when working on that first page on my lap top is different to what I see on my full desk monitor. That massive picture taking up the RHS of the page (which is larger that I'd originally intended, thanks to the 960 grid I'm using), now seems like a terrible use of space. Maybe I'll go back and use the 16grid instead of the 12...

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