There’s one thing we hate more than having an untidy house, and that’s having an untidy website. We hate them both for largely the same reason; they give an impression to visitors that we live in a state of disarray, and the mess makes it difficult for us to find what we’re looking for.
As the variety of different types of content you can include on a website increases, some designers seem to have decided the best option is to include all of them. How many times have you logged on to a website for the first time to find a scrolling Twitter feed, video content, mouse-over drop-down menus, and content that jumps around as more and more images load nudging everything up, down, left, or right? If you’re anything like us, it makes you want to log off the site and never come back to it.
Despite the above, many of us make the same mistakes when we’re making our own business or personal websites. No matter whether you’re running a multi-million dollar business site, or just somewhere to put your art and design pictures, you want your visitors to get a positive impression from the moment they arrive, and an easy route to finding the things you want them to see. If they can’t do that right now, it’s time to de-clutter your web space. Here’s our best advice on how to do precisely that, and avoid the embarrassment on ending up on a list of hilariously terrible websites.
This is the bane of everybody’s internet existence, and it seems to be getting worse. We don’t necessarily mean pop-up adverts with this. How you choose to finance the running of your website is your own business, although we’d suggest unintrusive adverts are less likely to irritate guests. We mean pop-ups that want you to do something as soon as you arrive on the page.
The first of them is usually an invitation to receive notifications. Nobody wants to receive notifications from every website they land on. People are so keen to turn them off that major websites are having to publish guides on how to block them. The second of them is an invitation to sign up or register. Usually, the two things arrive back to back, meaning your visitor has had to click to get rid of something twice before they can even read your content. That’s a bad user experience. Don’t do it. If a user wants to interact with you, they’ll register for your email list.
Leave Plenty Of Empty Space
Just because you can fill someone’s screen with your content doesn’t mean you have to do so. If a website looks too crowded, your visitors won’t know where to start. It’s fine to have a couple of images which stretch from left to right, but don’t make anything fill the whole screen from top to bottom. Use some white space, or an area of neutral color, to form a border around the things that you really want your visitors to focus on.
Business websites which want customers to make a money-spending decision urgently use this practice a lot. Cutting down on clutter around the important information makes it easier for the eye to settle on it. As an example of what we mean, look at any good online casino websites or their sister sites. Chances are you’ll find an introductory offer at the top, a couple of paragraphs explaining who they are and what they do, and then a list of casino games, which will be surrounded on all sides by neutral or white space. That means their potential customer isn’t distracted when choosing which casino game to play. They have it down to an art, and so should you.
Keep To A Simple Color Palette
We all know which colors work together and which colors don’t. Black text on a white background is the default because it’s the easiest arrangement to read. Red text on a blue background is the worst choice possible, because it strains your eyes. Multiple colors all over the place gives the impression that a five-year-old has been let loose on your code, and they brought their crayons with them.
The colors you use on your homepage should be bold, and of a cool tone. If you’re using more than four colors at most, you’ve done something wrong. You likely only use one or two different colors in your logo, so use them as your theme, and perhaps introduce one or two sympathetic shades to highlight important pieces of information, like menus or topic headings.
Remember That Not Everybody Scrolls Down
Another of the more questionable trends we’ve seen in modern web design is to fill the user’s screen with a logo, an image, and a headline, and then ask them to scroll down to read more. We’re not sure when or why this started, but we’d like it to stop. Forcing people to scroll down below the limits of their display is just another barrier between them, and the content they want to see. If all your products, or all your exciting content is below the scroll point on your homepage, you’re going to lose a percentage of your visitors without them even having seen it. Having a great mission statement or motto is a fine thing, but it doesn’t need a whole screen to itself.
Keep Buttons To A Minimum
You might have a lot of different categories of content to show to people, but not all of them need their own button on your homepage; especially when you likely already have three social media buttons, a ‘register’ button, and a button to press to submit contact information. There is such a thing as paralysis through indecision. Someone who’s not sure about where to go next after arriving at your site may either leave, or select the wrong option.
Keep all your social media connectivity buttons behind a ‘contact us’ menu option, and have just one button which provides access to the menus. Other than that, have a button that takes users directly to your products and services, and another button that tells them a little more about you. After that, the most important thing to include on the homepage is a localized search bar. Having the search bar gives customers a way to manually search for what they’re looking for if they can’t see a direct route.
If the above advice sounds minimalist, that’s because it is. Minimalism should be the new trend in web design – we want an internet free of aggressive pop us, calls to action that are actually shouts, and barriers to information. Following this advice should be easy – and after it’s done, you’ll find your website will be lower maintenance than it used to be!
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