When developing your web site, it is very important to focus on what you know—limiting your content to key information. Keep your content relevant to your anticipated users. When planning your web site, narrow your focus and then stick to it.
Limiting Design Content
Your web site design should help people find the information they are seeking. This is really two separate categories. First, you will want to make sure that you have a consistent design throughout your site. This can be accomplished through a template or cascading style sheet (more on this in another article). Secondly, you will want to keep your pages short, less than 1,000 words.
Keep vertical scrolling to a minimum—a sales page and blogs seems to be the accepted exceptions. Horizontal scrolling, however, is never acceptable. The “standard” width is currently designed to work on a 1024 x 768 monitor resolution. This amounts to about 960 usable horizontal pixels. Keeping your design narrow is ideal as it is difficult to read across wide columns of information. There’s a reason newspaper columns are so narrow!
[NOTE: Since this article was first published, mobile devices have become a large portion of site traffic. Mobile users like vertical scrolling, so longer pages are more acceptable now than they once were. Screen sizes have also become larger. Ideally, the site should be mobile responsive so it looks good from 300 pixels all the way to 2840+.)
Limiting Page Content
This doesn’t mean limiting your site to a few pages. Content rich sites make the search engines happy. What this does mean is sticking to your topic and breaking up long pages into several pages. It also means you should combine very short pages that only have a paragraph or two of information. “Perhaps the only thing readers hate more than having to scan thousands of words on one page is constantly having to click to a new page, because there are only a few words on each one.” (Martin, 2008)
Who will be visiting your web site? What language will they use? Do they understand technical terms specific to your topic? You may need to provide a glossary or links to Wikipedia to explain unfamiliar terms. Also be careful not to talk down to your audience.