Digital real estate and organized design.

My first foray into design was in print. I was the copy editor for one of my high school’s student newspapers, and, when I was done editing stories and cranking out witty yet succinct headlines, I would sometimes help the layout editor fight the good fight to make all the articles and images and advertisements fit. I learned quickly that space is valuable. Space is money. Unused and inefficiently used space are money lost.

And the web is no different.

Sure, web sites can be as big as you need them to be. People can scroll down to access more content, so the page is never too small, and you can always add more pages. If you wanted to add a page to the newspaper, you had to add a whole four pages because of the way the publication was structured. The web knows no such limitations, and thank goodness for that.

But what I said about there about inefficiently used space remains true. Poor space management, poor organization, poor information design… All of these affect your bottom line.

If your page is too cluttered, viewers won’t be able to find the information they want. No problem. They’ll go elsewhere, and they’ll take their money with them. If your ads are too big, or they flash, or they’re just plain distracting, viewers will recognize them as ads, and they’ll either ignore them (in which case you’re already losing money if you’re running CTR ads), or they’ll leave your page in favor of another, less ad-heavy one.

In short, pay careful attention to the way you lay out your page, and devote the most real estate to your highest priorities. If your big focus is your blog, stick with a smaller header and navigation menu so that your content is visible “above the fold.” If your design portfolio is your priority, snapshots of your best work need to be visible the moment someone visits your page, no scrolling or clicking necessary, maybe as part of the header or simply as a large, scrolling carousel at the top of the home page.

Before you even begin building the site, you should write out a list of your top priorities for your site. What do you want the site to do? What is the most important thing on your site? What is the least important thing on your site? Once you know all that, you can organize the site accordingly, with the most important elements in highly visible, easily accessible locations—on prime real estate, if you will.

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