Website design and simplicity – when less is more

Why simple website design is better for your business

Have you ever been to a supermarket and been overwhelmed by the vast variety and brands all competing for your attention then walked out without buying anything at all? Or maybe opened up the Netflix homepage with its endless choice of films, TV series, dramas, documentaries and everything in between, only to turn the TV off exhausted, having chosen nothing at all? Or perhaps you’ve been to a café just wanting a coffee and been overawed by all the unusual and exotic names on the menu, and because of the pressure of the queue behind, ended up ordering a tea instead, then regretting it because it tasted more like scented water?

Whether it’s streaming TV, downloading music, online shopping or instore, even online dating — we’ve never had more choice. But in a world of infinite options, more isn’t always better.

What’s this got to do with website design, I hear you say? Well, giving people so much choice can cause stress and indecision. They’re not sure where they should go, or how they should take action. Just like having too many varieties of milk or washing powder in a supermarket, too many options or too much information can actually be overwhelming for your website visitors. If they are not sure where to navigate to on your website or if they can’t find what they are looking for with ease, then they will leave and take their business elsewhere.

But there are ways to align website design with the factors that influence visitor perceptions and behaviours… and simplicity is the key.

“That which is less complicated is often better understood and more appreciated than what is more complicated; simplicity is preferable to complexity; brevity in communication is more effective than verbosity” - Robert Browning

1. Simple websites convert better

When someone lands on a page of your site what do you want that person to do? Where do you want them to look? Ideally you want them to perform an action such as make a purchase or a donation, complete a form, schedule an appointment, sign up to a newsletter or download a free resource. Every time one of these actions is achieved then this is a conversion.

A simple website design should draw the visitor’s eye to the most important area of the page first – and if you’re looking for conversions that’s your call to action; or rather, the features and benefits of a service or product that will convince them to act upon a call to action before they see that ‘Buy Now’, ‘Sign Up’ or ‘Download’ button.

2. Simple website design doesn’t distract your website visitors

Just as in the Netflix example, how many times have you landed on a website only to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of products, bombarded by pop-ups or adverts, or hit by a barrage of information, photos, colours, text etc.?

In his book ‘The Paradox of Choice’ psychologist Barry Schwartz, demonstrates that ‘Choice overload’ makes us question our decisions before we even make them. That with more choice, we are more likely to either be paralysed (by too much choice) or disappointed (thinking that we didn’t make the best possible choice).

But what does this paradox of choice have to do with your website? The more opportunities you provide on your website to buy, view, subscribe, or whatever other action you want your visitors to take the better, right? No, wrong! There’s a reason simple website design converts better – less distraction. Excessive content, too many options and over-the-top design elements (popups, animations, menu options etc.) can all distract from the action you want visitors to perform, reducing the likelihood that they will act on any of those opportunities. You don’t need to show everything you have to offer right off the bat.

Cutting back on distractions helps communicate your website’s purpose much more efficiently and creates a more clear, concise and streamlined user experience and focuses attention on your call to action.

If someone visits your website, it’s likely they already have an end goal in mind. They know what they want to find. Your goal should be to make it as easy as possible for them to locate it.

3. Simple websites are visually appealing

Simple doesn’t mean to say a website lacks style, creativity or features, or that it shouldn’t contain any images, videos or bright colours. Simplicity is not the same as minimalism. It’s principally about excluding or eliminating any unnecessary elements that don’t enhance a user’s experience, and presenting a more straightforward, consistent, effective, engaging and easier to use website for your visitors. If you do want to add animation or interactive features and other design elements, you should do sparingly and make sure they add value to your users and boost engagement.

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple” – Steve Jobs

Designing for simplicity is arguably more challenging than creating something more elaborate. It is about finding a way to achieve more by using less, and that can be hard to accomplish.

4. Simpler designs appeal to users’ expectations

When someone arrives on your website, is it easy for them to find what they’re looking for? The technology used to create websites may always be changing, but people still have certain expectations for how a website should look and feel. We are creatures of habit. We like shopping with companies we know and trust. Unconsciously, we give preference to things and people we’re familiar with. So, naturally a website built around these principles feels familiar, intuitive, trustworthy and offers a better experience – even if they’ve never visited it before. They don’t want to feel like they have to “learn” how to use your website. That said, a good site design can play with innovation, so long as it stills feel intuitive. Users won’t stay on your site if they can’t find the information they’re looking for, or if a standard feature doesn’t work the way they expect it to.

5. Simple design builds trust

In the same way people tend to find simpler website designs appeal to their expectations, they also trust them more than complex ones. According to research published in 2017 by Blue Corona (a leading digital marketing and analytics company), 48% of people cited a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business.

Clean, simple website design makes your business look professional. It gives visitors a sense that you’re established and trustworthy, they’ll be more engaged and more likely to convert and come back in the future.

6. Simple web designs load faster

Cluttering up a website with too many complex design elements can significantly reduce the speed at which it loads. But by electing for a simpler design and using only the features and functionality that enhance a user’s experience, you can cut out a lot of the heavy lifting on your web host server. The result will be a faster loading site and happier users and happier search engines.

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Summing up…

No matter your industry, a simple, clean and easy to navigate website will always serve you best. A great website does not need to be complicated to look good and function well. Less is more when it comes to effective website design. If you want people to do something on your website, you have to remove the barriers to the user accomplishing their goals. Simplicity and consistency across website design can be hard, but by approaching it from a visitor’s perspective, affecting how they feel when they land on your website and communicating as much as possible with as few elements as possible can greatly influence whether they have a good experience and follow through with your calls to action.

Do you need help creating a simple and effective website for your company? Contact us today and let’s grow your business together!

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