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Balancing Your Text and Graphics

While the old adage states that a picture is worth a thousand words, in terms of search engine marketing this may not ring as true. In fact, although graphics are an important part of your overall legal website design, overdoing them can be much too visually intense for your readers, causing them to quickly click away. Ideally, you will balance the text and graphic elements on your pages in ways which make your marketing successful. In the process, you will ensure your site is not intimidating, rather is user-friendly and easy on the eyes. Remember, an engaged reader has the potential of becoming a full-blown client. While adding animated graphics in your header may help “humanize” your site—especially important for legal websites—such graphics can result in a web page which takes much longer to load. And, as most of us know, a page which takes too long to load generally results in a user who will simply go somewhere else.

 Simple is Best

Just as you learn to keep your paragraphs short and your text concise, this technique should be applied equally to your graphics. In fact, no matter what part of your site you are considering, remember that simpler is always better. Should your links be complex or your graphics be overly intense, your readers may become frustrated or confused, losing sight of why they came to your specific pages in the first place. Simple text balanced with simple, visually pleasing graphics will ensure a site which brings your readers back time and time again. What you are aiming for is a very subtle balance between text and graphics, incorporating plenty of white space into the overall design. Your readers need to be very clear on how a particular graphic relates to the page they have arrived at. Text size and font is also important. You want to always ensure your text is easy to read, and while some fonts are certainly cool, imagine how easy they are on the eye before implementing them in your text or headings.

Should Your Graphics Support Your Text or Text Support Your Graphics?

Actually, you can take either course of action when laying out each individual page, but you must choose one or the other. Either your graphics will support and enhance your text (most common) or your text will enhance your graphics (less common but can be equally effective).  Should you choose to have your graphics support your text, then the message your words are conveying will dominate your page while the graphics will serve as additional explanation or illustration. In this scenario, your text could conceivably stand alone, however your reader will more readily grasp the concepts in the words when a graphic is included.  If you choose this option, the text usually comes first then the graphics are added later.

 When you choose to have your text support your graphics, then the visual effects on your page will be the method of communication while the text will only help interpret the specific visual element. A well-designed graphic can certainly stand alone, however text serves as reinforcement of the message.  In this scenario, were the graphic to suddenly disappear, the text would be virtually meaningless, therefore the graphic element comes first, and the text is supplemental.  As with most web content, the route you choose to convey your message is ultimately chosen by your targeted audience. If the material you are presenting is overly technical, legal, and complicated to the point that it confuses the reader, a well-designed graphic could conceivably be more effective. Unfortunately much of what attorneys will be writing about does not lend itself to graphic interpretation therefore the bulk of legal websites will rely on text, supported by graphics. 

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