"but how can I improve my website?"
So my phone rings and the next thing I know I feel like I am sucked into some sort of magnetic vortex moving me through time into my recent past when I was having the same conversation with a similar website owner asking the same question; "but how can I improve my website?". I smile, take a deep breath and start to explain "Designing an effective website is easier said than done, yet is possible" :)
Many small businesses over the past few years have not understood how to successfully design a website that generates a sale and hence produces money. Their website should be a marketing venue yet they treat it simply as a web placeholder.
The problem with this approach is that they miss a vital opportunity to generate leads which should be turned into sales. Website design is often outsourced to a website designer who asks a few questions, and then proceeds to churn out a typical small business site design based on predetermined principles.
There is a better way
Over the next few posts we will show you how with these simple adjustments, you can create a more effective website homepage regardless of your industry. It is a truth that is now more commonly embraced knowledge among website designers and usability experts, yet is a truth that is often ignored.
So What is This Truth? It is the truth that simple websites are better.
Google’s famous first impression study found that a user judges the beauty of a website in 1/50th of a second. In that time, users rate visually complex websites as less beautiful.
A visually complex website is one that has many competing elements that call cognitive attention or user interaction. They can include icons, banners images, logos, titles, headlines, text blocks, ads, menus, drop-downs, social plugins, warning messages, search boxes, forms, text links, and anything else that a developer conjures up or a business owner demands.
Simplicity will improve everything: aid usability, improve aesthetics and website loading time, and pleases the user.
- Remove Extraneous Elements
The fastest way to achieve simplicity is to remove the unnecessary. Take a fresh look at your website. Do you need that sidebar menu? Are people really using that search box? Does your logo need to appear in two places? Get rid of everything you can.
- Create More White Space
The flip side of removing elements is adding nothingness, or “negative space,” to use the design term. The absence of elements is itself a form of design. White space allows the mind to breathe and the eyes to relax.
- Below the Fold-line
Yes you read that correctly. If you simply can’t bear to part with it, then at least hide it. Moving the extras below the fold will create an instant aesthetic improvement, while still preserving the elements you deem important.
- Better Sameness
Make your website like other websites, but simpler. The more familiar we are with something, the more quickly we accept it or like it. Thus, if your users are accustomed to seeing websites designed in a certain way, don’t throw off that expectation. If you do, they might not like the site. Mimic the conventional, but improve upon it through the power of simplicity.
As the renowned industrial designer Dieter Rams said: “Good design is as little design as possible.”
David — OURDESK — Strategic IT & Website Packages for Small Business