The rule of thirds is a design “rule of thumb” about how to compose images and artwork. The idea is to visually divide an image into 9 equal parts when you take the picture, and make sure the focal piece is not directly in the center (that can make it look stark and awkward). Objects on either third of the image generate more energy and interest.
This smoothie picture is an example of the rule of thirds. Nothing is directly in the center of the image — all the interesting pieces are in the outside thirds.
Your smartphone camera (which is perfectly good for taking pictures for your blog or newsletter) probably has an option to show grid lines to make it easier to find the thirds. (Lifehacker kindly shows us how to turn on the Grid Lines on the iPhone.)
Which picture is more interesting? The one with the berries in the middle, or the one with the strong foreground?
The rule of thirds also applies to website design!
Have you ever noticed that most websites don’t have text that goes all the way across the page? Most of the time, you’ll see a sidebar that divides the page roughly into thirds. It’s easier on our eyes to read chunks rather than long spans of text. When creating your website, keep the rule of thirds in mind and make your text take up only a third or two thirds of the page (not 2 equal columns and not the full width).
We can also consider the rule of thirds when laying out our navigation. Often, we are so excited about our fabulous content that we want to link to everything all the time. This creates confusion and a confused mind says no… and leaves your website.
Instead of overwhelming your visitors with 15 options, give them three options on your homepage, and another three options on the next page. People can choose from 3 options, and you want to guide them through your website using your navigation, rather than hope they find it by wandering around.
Sample navigation for the “my services” page:
- In-person programs
- Online options
- Events in the community
The next page would have
- 28-day Jumpstart, 3-month Intensive, 6-month Premium program
- cleanse, online webinars, virtual coaching
- cooking demos, lunch & learn, workshops
Don’t worry about clicks… research shows that people don’t mind clicking a few times if they feel like they’re going in the right direction.
Take a few pictures, one with your subject directly in the center, and another with your subject in the left or right third of the frame. See which one you like better and then come and let me know in the comments how your experiment went!