I like things that are simple.
I like the simple elegance of single-speed bikes, and the simple deliciousness of a good grilled cheese sandwich. To me, less is more. The absence of complexities eliminate distractions and force me to focus on what’s most important: the enjoyment of riding a bike or the taste of a well-made sandwich.
But my passion for simplicity doesn’t stop with bikes or sandwiches. It spills over into every website that I make.
I create successful websites by doing less.
Nobody likes things that are complex and hard to understand. That leads to confusion, which leads to frustration. When put in the context of a website, that leads to people hitting the back button after 10 seconds because they couldn’t figure it out.
Don’t let that happen to you.
The best websites are the ones that serve high-value content in a way that’s easy to understand and interact with, and the best way to achieve that is to deliver less.
What does it mean to do less?
In short, it means cut the crap. Serve visitors only your best and most important content, images, and video. Consolidate pages with similar topics and edit your content to communicate the same information with less text. If your content is not A-grade or mission critical, then it’s probably dead weight that can be cut.
But be warned, it isn’t easy! Often times, creating less actually takes more work.
Mark Twain once said:
If I Am To Speak Ten Minutes, I Need a Week for Preparation; If an Hour, I Am Ready Now
Simplifying the content and information architecture of your website requires a significant commitment of time and brain power. If Mark Twain were alive and creating websites today, it’d probably take him a year.
One trick that I use is to evaluate my websites from the perspective of an end user, then ask myself:
- Does this website make sense to me?
- Can I easily find all of the information that I’m looking for?
- Is the content engaging and arranged in the most intuitive way possible?
- Is there anything that’s confusing or ambiguous?
More often than not, answering these questions leads to considerable content editing and restructuring. The result is a simpler website, but a better one with greater clarity.
The benefits of less
Simplifying your website is hard work, but your efforts will be greatly rewarded in the following ways:
- Simplifying eliminates confusion and forces you to clarify your message, making it more powerful and easier for your audience to relate to.
- A simplified navigation structure makes the user experience less overwhelming, increasing the likeliness that your visitors will “dive right in” and stay a while.
- Fewer pages also means you exert greater control over the user’s flow through your website. With are fewer destinations that a user can stray off to, there is a higher likeliness that your targeted pages will be seen.
- Attention spans on the web are terribly short to begin with. Paring your website down to only the absolute best and most compelling content gives you the greatest shot at “setting the hook” with your visitors and turning these people from casual browsers into paying clients or customers.
- Most importantly, by concentrating your efforts on doing less, you can do everything better because you’re not spreading yourself too thin. And whether it’s a conscious choice or not, your audience will pick up on this and appreciate it.
The easiest path to doing less
The most efficient way to do less with your website is to make simplification part of the planning phase before any code is ever written.
As part of a content strategy phase at the beginning of a project, I will work with you to understand the unique value that your business or organization offers, and come up with ways to present that information in the most intuitive and engaging way on the web. Through this highly collaborative process, we will nail down your navigation and content structure so that you serve only the best and most relevant content in the easiest way possible for your visitors to navigate. If you need help in this area, then we should talk.