As I read through the tips from my fellow contributors, I found I wasn’t the only one singing the simplicity tune.
David Warning of Fit Small Business mentioned:“The most important thing to your customers is that they can quickly find the information they are looking for, and take the
action they came to your site to take. This means you should keep your site simple, and clutter free.”
Philip Rook of Spreadshirt made the point:“Every shopping, browsing and checkout experience has to be fun, fast, simple and secure.”
While Scott Bowen of Webs, wrapped things up with his bottom-line:“The key to a successful small business website is a clear purpose.”
Though we all took a different approach, we were all consistent in the classic wisdom of simplicity in web design.
KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid
This lesson is such an old one that it hardly seems like one mentioning. However, sometimes we get so enamored by all the bells and whistles technology allows us, that we want to put everything into our sites.
Worse is when we get excited by our own stuff. Let me take that back. It’s a great thing to be excited by your own products and services. The problem comes when you’re so excited that you want to show EVERYTHING to your customers at once. In person that excitement is infectious; online it’s overwhelming.
Think of your website visitors like children
When you give your web visitors three choices, they can handle that and pick one. When you give them 10 choices it’s too much and they cry.
Perhaps on a website your customers may not cry, but they will leave if they are overwhelmed. Ultimately that means you’ll be the one crying because you aren’t getting the conversions you want.
A better approach would be to put your best foot forward and find a way to draw people in further. Once someone clicks on a link to learn more, they’re ready to see more info from you.
Remember how people behave and consume info online
Even if someone is ready to invest a bit more time learning about your products or services you must be conscious of basic web behaviors:
- People to do not read on the web;
- People skim info – bullets & headlines will take you far;
- A picture is worth a 1,000 words!
Give yourself a simplicity test
If you really want to know how simple or complicated you’ve made your website, give yourself a test. List out three actions you want people to complete on your website, for example:
- Buy a product
- Sign up for email list
- Fill out contact form
Now find a handful of friends that aren’t familiar with your site and ask them to complete each action. In an ideal world you can sit with them for the test. You want to see both how long it takes them, and how many false starts they had before they got to the goal.
A bonus round would be to give your friends five seconds to look at your homepage, then ask them to describe what your company is all about.
If five seconds feels awfully short, you should know that it’s more than many visitors will give you before they decide to bounce from your site. Making an instant, clear impression on your site is crucial!
Simplicity in web design doesn’t equal boring
Focusing on simplicity doesn’t mean you can’t have a great design; it means you covered your fundamentals:
- Creating a clear path for your visitors to follow;
- Putting in a strong calls to action;
- Making actions, such as online purchases, easy and straight-forward.
If you find yourself with a site that’s become cluttered because you’ve been tacking things onto for while, take a step back. Like anything else, a good website starts with a good strategy. If you need help, don’t be afraid to give Social Light a shout!