Simplicity can be a valuable asset, especially when it comes to web design and development. Simplicity makes websites look sleek, reduces navigation confusion, and it helps achieve the desired goals and results (i.e., more signups, subscribers, and sales) in the most efficient way possible. But too often, simplicity eludes many of us designers in our attempts at a well-designed site, often giving in to feature creep or scope creep or just plain old whimsy.
So what’s a website designer to do? Fret not, for we’ve put together a few starting points to get you on your way.
1) Remember the Pareto Principle (or the 80-20 Rule)
A ‘clutter-free interface’ is the mainstay of a minimalist website. One of the ways to go about creating a website with very little, to no clutter is to remember the Pareto principle, also known as the “80-20 rule,” which states that about 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Put the rule into practice by rethinking what you choose to include in your design in the first place.
To begin with, get rid of all the elements on your web design that don’t drive your potential customers to the sales funnel/call to action/desired outcome. This may include getting rid of long strings of text, ugly looking or unnecessary buttons, forms with too many fields, and arrows or text boxes which occupy white space and add nothing to the functionality of the website. The thinking behind this minimalist approach is that only 20% of your design choices will affect the desired outcome of your website (i.e.
more sales, conversions, subscriptions, etc.). Therefore, if you strip down your design to its barest essentials, you ensure that everything that is included in your design is making the biggest impact it can make.
2) Make Navigation Effortless
A website with tons of neat navigational features might seem like a great idea. It’s novel and it seems interesting. However, an unfamiliar navigational scheme can cause a hindrance in the user-experience by making the user have to “re-learn” how to go from one place on your website to another.
This can create a negative impression on the users of your website. Also, it discourages those same users to return to the site. Here are some quick tips to help make navigation effortless for your visitors –
- Place the most important information above the fold.
- Cut down on redundant or unnecessary navigational links (i.e. if you have a “Home” button in your navigation bar, don’t include a hidden “Home” button in a “hamburger” icon).
- Get rid of redundant inner pages by using analytics tools to know which of your pages don’t increase your conversion rates.
- Make navigation buttons easy to locate.
- If you have a lot of content, Infinite scrolling might be a way to go since it will cut down on one extra navigational step to get your user from page 1 to page 2, for instance.
- Use universal icons and symbols for navigation buttons. It can be as simple as a ‘down’ symbol used for dropdown menus.
- Don’t underestimate the sitemap.
These tips are immensely helpful for creating an intuitive navigation on your website and provide an enhanced user-experience to the visitors.
3) Compelling Copy
Readers skim. With an incessant flood of copy doing the rounds on the internet, it is increasingly difficult to go through all the content that a reader comes across. The only way to grab readers’ attention is by creating compelling copy.
The copy on your website should not only be compelling enough in terms of the content, but also in terms of its presentation. From the designer’s perspective, make your copy more compelling by:
- Choosing a readable and user-friendly typeface. Forego the fancy, expensive fonts and go for the ones easiest on the eyes and causes the least fatigue.
- Try separating long copy into bite sized information.
- Highlighting important text using special formatting options
- Creating bulleted lists
Also, since quality content leads to your website being ranked higher on search engines, don’t forget to rope in the best talent out there to create extraordinary copy that makes an impression. To check on your site rankings, don’t forget to check out your Google Analytics SEO dashboard!
4) Embrace a Monotone Color Scheme
Depending on the type of content you have in a website, a monotone color palette can often give your design a sleek, classic look that immediately simplifies a web design. Corporate websites often use a monotone color scheme for their websites mainly as a function of their strict branding efforts but a simple color scheme can benefit any type of website looking to simplify things a bit. The thinking behind having a monotone color scheme is that with fewer colors for the user to process, the content that you need to emphasize (i.e.
a line of text, a call to action, or an image) will have a better chance of grabbing the user’s attention. It’s a simple and effective technique for getting the job done.
Bonus: Break the rules and follow your instincts
At the end of the day, experimentation and following your instincts on simplifying your website can still do wonders. Don’t be afraid to break the rules and create your own path. Sometimes the best solutions are the ones no one has thought of yet.