There are general Web site design best practice rules designers should follow. The most important to remember are the F-stop reading pattern, load time and attention span related to reading, and these best practices can still be followed when creating a feng shui Web site.
Jessica Harris’ blog “Applying Feng Shui to Website Design” included tips on how popular feng shui rules – the Bagua, the five elements and Chi-means energy – can be integrated into Web site elements. This blog integrates Web site best practices into feng shui guidelines.
F-Stop reading pattern
Because Western languages are written left to right, people read most everything from left to right. This layout creates a natural skimming pattern where the most viewed objects are in the top-left corner of any written material (newspapers, Web sites, books, etc.). This is why a logo or company name and navigation links appear at the top right of Web sites, and site designers can use Chi to create eye-movement while following best practices.
If the Chi starts at the top left (logo), moves counter-clockwise down the left side (navigation links perhaps), to the bottom content (footer or image) and up the right side (list of content articles) then Chi has been achieved. But this F-stop reading pattern, taken further into counter-clockwise circular reading pattern can also be used for non-traditional sites.
Pandora.com sells clickable advertising skins. A 2010 Sierra Mist holiday advertisement includes rounded elements, water, nature in objects and colors. On the full screen, a user’s eyes start at the current song (top middle), moves counter-clockwise to the content area that includes information about the current singer, moves counter-clockwise again to the advertisement section and completes the rotation by moving to the top again.
If you know your Web site loads slowly – and you can’t increase the load time – it’s best to ease your user’s tension by creating Thank-you messages. Such pop-up windows like ‘Thank-you for your patience while the Web site loads’ can ease tension and create a feeling you are thinking about the user’s well-being.
Jacob Nielsen’s Timeframe article explains how user’s feel when waiting on a Web site page to load. Please remember many factors can contribute to loading experiences (third party applications, user Internet connection, database connections, etc.) so always work to prevent increasing loading time.
Attention span is tremendously reduced when users read or skim online verses print products. This shortened attention span creates advertisement blindness (banner blindness) and less time to keep that user interested in your site. A Web site can increase its time spent on site statistic, increase the user’s attention span and follow the feng shui guidelines of creating simplicity by reducing clutter.
Feng shui’s emphasis on increasing awareness and consciousness to objects around you can be played out by creating a simple site design by decreasing words and images. Keep the user focused on your content or article by reducing advertisements on the site. Jacob Nielseon goes further to include no graphics or advertisements on his useit.com site. Increase attention span by decreasing the amount of columns on your site – the less columns mean fewer pieces of content to confuse your user.
But don’t let attention span, load time and the F-stop reading pattern limit you. Please share ideas on how to relate feng shui principles and Web site best practices.