Simplify your Website
According to a recent article in The Observer by John Naughton (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/feb/19/john-naughton-webpage-obesity), websites have been putting on weight recently. Naughton, who is professor of ‘The public understanding of technology’ at the Open University, says that in terms of file size, the average web page has grown from approximately 94KB in 2003, to 679KB in 2011. This, he argues, is a waste of bandwidth, and many websites would be better off losing some of this girth by returning to simpler designs.
Of course, the speed of the average broadband Internet connection has grown in tandem with this expansion, so the question of bandwidth is rarely one that proves to be problematic. But there are other compelling, purely aesthetic and usability related reasons for scaling back your website’s complexity. Here we take a look at five hints that your website may be overly bloated and complex, and how to take steps to simplify your pages.
1. There are multimedia clips and pictures scattered throughout your design
The more or less ubiquity of high-speed broadband has made it possible for businesses to use online video, images and interactive multimedia to promote themselves. However, too many untargeted multimedia objects can simply be distracting or even annoying. In many cases it’s a good idea to restrict the use of these, and it may even be worthwhile scooping them all up into a dedicated ‘Multimedia’ section of your site for users who consciously choose to view them.
2. Users are presented with a dozen or more navigation choices on your homepage
Too much choice can be a very bad thing. The most important thing to keep in mind is how easily users can get to the information or products they’re looking for on your site.
3. Your finger/eyes/ brain gets tired scrolling down to the bottom of the page
Many usability studies reveal that users tend to hang about most ‘above the fold’, that is, the portion of the screen that is immediately visible without having to scroll down. If they’re interested they may of course scroll down, but there are limits to this. Most users will click back before they scroll to the bottom of a long passage of text.
4. Your design features all the colours of the rainbow
Would you decorate your living room with dozens of colours, including five vibrant shades of green? Probably not, as it would be a bit too much on the eyes, so you’d instead choose a limited palette of maybe 2-3 colours that match. Websites are no different, and while lots of colour splashed about can initially look attractive, it is generally highly distracting and can make your site more difficult to navigate.
5. Users must click through page after page to reach your sales page
Perhaps most importantly, you should simplify the number of pages you use on your site. Web users have notoriously short attention spans, and if they have to click through endless pages of sales spiel to get what they want they may well get bored and click away. Simplify your Website!