July 16, 2007

"Instead of trying to show off your mad skills, focus on simplicity and you will be greatly rewarded."

A lot of new - or inexperienced - web designers like to show of their skills and make their websites fairly complicated, a mistake you probably do as well. By adding unnecessary technologies to a web page, creating a complicated navigation system, and simply having elements that are completely useless, your website could be losing a lot of valuable visitors every day.

By simplifying your website, your viewers have quick access to the information they need, your website becomes much easier to manage and update, and search engines will post your website more accurately and fully. All of these benefits can be achieved by avoiding the fluff of website design. Instead of trying to show off your mad skills, focus on simplicity and you will be greatly rewarded.

The first thing you should do is review the technology used on your website. You should be able to do everything you need to using only two or three technologies. If your website is using XHTML, CSS, AJAX, Flash, and JavaScript to achieve it's effects, then it is too busy and should be simplified. Using multiple technologies in your website is not only unnecessary, it makes it harder for every person who visits your website to see the same thing you see. Not everyone has the latest version of Flash running on their computer. As Daniel Shutzsmith of Graphic Define once said: "...only use [technologies] when it is absolutely necessary to achieve the solution you are looking for."

Removing unnecessary technologies from your site is one method that will greatly improve your visitors experience, but it isn't the only thing you should review to simplify your website. One of the most important aspects of your website is its navigation system. Instead of trying to think "out of the box" with your navigation system, think "easy, accessible, and friendly."

Place your navigation in a very open place - one where visitors will immediately be able to spot it. Use simple, friendly hyperlinks or similar methods to create your website navigation. A lot of javascript drop-down navigation menus, or flash navigation systems, won't run on many computers/browsers. Hundreds of visitors visiting your website everyday may leave within the first 10 seconds because they don't know how to navigate.

Finally, besides the mistakes of unnecessary technologies and a complicated navigation system, web designers often add elements to web pages that are completely useless. Your site visitors want to find the information they came to your website as quick as possible. By having flashy images or giant banners that serve no purpose on your website, you are scaring away the majority of your site visitors. The best way to deal with this problem is to use your imagination.

Pretend that you are visiting your website for the 100th time. If there are any elements that are annoying or seem completely useless - remove them. Not only will veteran visitors appreciate the new found simplicity of your website, but new visitors will find it easy, and enjoyable to use and come back for more at a later time.

By avoiding the common mistakes some web designers make you can save yourself a lot of visitors and potential customers. 
Simplifying your website by removing unnecessary technologies from a web page, creating an easy to use navigation system, and getting rid of useless elements, your website will dramatically attract new attention - as well as keeping old visitors coming back.