Keeping It Simple
When It Comes To Website Development, Simple Is Better
Revised July 18, 2013
Originally Published July 31, 2008
Whether a company designs its website in-house, or hires a web development firm to design and maintain the website application, it's important to understand one simple rule regarding website function and simplicity:
"Unless a website is simple and easy to use, it WILL lose traffic and customers."
If one studies some of the biggest website names out there on the internet, such as Amazon, Google or any other enterprise-level website, the main theme resonating throughout all sites will be an overall simple and straight-forward navigation and layout. While many of the largest sites on the internet have literally hundreds of thousands of website pages of information, finding specific information is often easy and straightforward.
Successful websites give visitors a straight-forward design with consistent and easy to understand navigation. The eye is drawn to the website's internal content, product images, or information instead of flashy or distracting navigation buttons or animated images. Every image and word used within a website page is relevant and has purpose.
When it comes to design and layout of a website, the following are some basic principles to keep in mind when designing and planning your website:
- Above all else, a website must be functional.
A website can certainly be a pretty piece of art with great color, feel, etc. However, if people can't figure out how to use or navigate the site, or if it takes too long to load because of so many graphics, then the site will loose visitors and customers.
- Navigation should be clear and concise, adhering to the '3-click' standard, and easily recognized without intensive search.
Visitors need to be able to find information quickly and in an intuitive fashion. Website navigation should remain stationary and not jump around. Categories and major sections of the website should be clearly definable. As a standard, if any information is buried more than 3-clicks deep, it is considered too difficult to find.
- Graphics should be easy on the eyes, clean, crisp, and optimized for quick loading on any browser platform.
When used correctly, graphics can help bring understanding and dimension to products and services. However, every graphic must have an easily understandable purpose otherwise it just becomes clutter and a distraction to the visitor.
- Content and overall website structure should be well-thought out and easy to navigate.
Website content should utilize page titles and paragraph headers properly to help the visitor identify key points and information quickly without confusion. All content should be kept fresh and optimized and written for visitors while taking into account for parsing by machines to achieve optimal search engine ranking.
- Nothing should distract a customer's focus from the page content area.
Every page should focus the customer's eyes to look at the center content area with the products or services available. Flashy navigation, animated logos, or any other images irrelevant to the product or service should be eliminated and replaced with simple, non-distractive images.
Whether beginning a new site, or revamping an old website keeping things simple and easy to use makes for a great customer experience, and a successful website application.