Generally speaking, most of us organize our clothes by type. If you’re a guy like me, you keep socks in one drawer, underwear in another. Pants are stored in one place, and I hang my shirts together. This type of organized storage system makes sense, because I get dressed by putting on one article of clothing on at a time. Its logical to keep like things together so I know where to find each item that I want.
While getting dressed, I make decisions about how to put different items together to form an outfit. I start with underwear, socks, and maybe a tee shirt. Then I find a pair of pants and a shirt (that hopefully match) and, depending on where I’m going, maybe a coat or jacket. I wear clothes that are appropriate for what I’m doing: shorts and sandals if the destination is the beach, or a suit for a friend’s wedding.
Designing a Website is a Lot Like Choosing an Outfit
The key here is that website design is like getting dressed, NOT like organizing our clothes in our closets.
We don’t wear all of the same category of clothing at once. You wouldn’t wear only shirts, only pants, or only socks (unless you’re the Red Hot Chili Peppers) – you take the various pieces of clothing for different parts of your body and wear them together to make an outfit.
A common mistake many designers make is building sites that have individual pages for each type of content. We’ve all seen this – a site that has separate pages for “about us”, “history”, “our mission”, testimonials, and contact information. Sometimes there are even separate pages for photos, another for videos, and so on.
Organizing a website’s content in this way is like storing clothes in your dresser or closet. You’re organizing the site by categories or types of content.
Websites Aren’t Dressers and Closets – They’re Outfits
A better solution is to put related pieces of content together to make a complete story – just like how you match your clothes to make an outfit. Why make the user go to a separate page to see photo galleries or videos? Put the video on the page that relates to the content of the video. While you’re there, put a testimonial that helps reinforce the message, as well as a contact form so if the user wants to take the next step, they don’t have to go to a separate page.
Here’s a sample “outfit” for a website page. Let’s pretend this is a company’s About Us page.
Sample About Us Page
- Intro content – Background & History
- Introductory video
- Section with more detailed information – specific services, service areas, etc.
- A photo gallery
- Call to Action that launches a contact form
- Newsletter sign up
- Footer with contact information and social media links
- Social media sharing buttons – allowing the user can share the content
Of course, this would all depend on the specifics of the site. Regardless, all of the various types of information work together as an “outfit” to address the content needs of the user.
Dress to Impress
Our clothes – especially in business situations – are important things that we carefully consider in order to make a good impression. By carefully selecting the proper elements and then assembling them together in a way that makes sense, we can design websites that are our virtual wardrobe to make an equally impressive presentation.