Check out Part 1: Tablet-Centric and Part 2: Shrunken Heads.

In Part 3, we are taking a look at how the new USAToday design is doing some innovative things to provide more white space and how we see this trend impacting small business web design.

For years now, the web design industry standard is to design pages with a width of 960 pixels. The USAToday design uses a flexible width which, when viewed in a browser at 960 pixels, actually has a content area which only measures 880 pixels. The “Right Now” right sidebar collapses which immediately provides more breathing room around the smaller content area.

We already looked at how the design provides for the left / right navigation which are just out of view in this capture. The additional whitespace on the sides makes the page content itself stand out more and provides room to click on the left / right arrows.

Additional spacing between the headlines makes both reading and navigating (clicking) easier.

So, does this shift make sense for small business website design and will we see more of it in the future?  A reduction in page real estate is going to more painful for advertising-based sites than non-ad sites.  The more space you have on the page, the more room there is to make money.  So a reduction in banner ad space is difficult.  USAToday seems to be relying solely on the pop-up sidebar for ads.  I find this less annoying than banner or block ads that are generally unattractive and not what I’m interested in.  I’d rather click to close the pop-up sidebar ad.

Small businesses, however, do have a need to use Calls To Action in sidebars and elsewhere on the page.  CTAs could be placed in pop-up sidebars as well, just as USAToday is doing with ads.  But that is not entirely necessary.  We’ll talk more about sidebars in another part in this series, but the content small businesses usually put in sidebars is quite easy to trim down.

Since trimming page content down a bit shouldn’t be a huge step for small biz and since  it does provide a better visual experience, I’ll give added spacing a yes.  Expect to see more of it in the future.

Next up is Part 4: Sidebars. Stay Tuned.

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