Page design and layout

Ideally, there should only be one topic or subtopic per page. You can create secondary pages for background and related information. Ask yourself:

  • How long is the page/content
  • How much information do people want in one visit
  • Am I overloading my visitor

How you choose to present the content on your web page not only determines how visually appealing it is, but can also impact usability and readability. Your page should clearly communicate what you want in a matter of seconds. 

While short page lengths help users understand content and find what they need more quickly, you don't want to force them to click through multiple pages to get all the content they need if it would make more sense on one page.

As a general guideline, landing pages should usually be no longer than 400 words, and other frequently-viewed pages should usually be no longer than 600 words.

Break up content

One way to improve your webpage's readability is to break up content into smaller chunks or paragraphs. This avoids walls of text, which can be intimidating to the reader, adds more white space to the page and makes your content seem like a faster read.

Try to break up your content by:

  • Time or sequence - Something happens first, then something else and so on.
  • Task - Break up task-based information into a single page for each task, if they are performed independently.
  • Audience - Split the content into separate pages for different groups, but only if users can quickly and clearly self-identify into the right groups.
  • Types of information - Questions about rules, policies, concepts and facts (Can I? May I? Must I? Why should I? What do I need to know about?) or questions about tasks or procedures (How do I?).

If splitting content into multiple pages, you should have a main page that introduces the content and secondary pages for background and related information. See Design Thinking.

Consider mobile vs. desktop views

When using a desktop monitor, it's easy to shift your view from one section of the screen to another (navigation, sidebar, main content, etc.). You need to keep in mind that other users may not be seeing or using the content in the same way. For example, someone using a phone will see all the content in a linear fashion, and only a small part of the page will be visible at once. For a visually-impaired person using a screenreader, they also receive content in a linear fashion, and it's even more complicated to go from one section to the next, as they can't easily "see" where they are at any given point. When creating a web page, it's important to make sure that content is presented in an order that makes sense for reading the page from start to end. This is the order that screenreader users, and usually small device users, will get the content.

  • Make sure the most important information is first. Less important pieces such as a "related links" section should go after the primary content.
  • Also make sure you're not referring to any content using directional words, which will not apply for all users, such as "instructions are in the right-hand column."