First impressions only happen once. And your homepage is your virtual front door. When customers enter your place of business, it is imperative that they are welcomed and not overwhelmed. In a split second from landing on your site, your website must communicate “Who you are,” “What you do,” and “What can the visitor do here.” Show them that they are in the “right place” and are free to stay and explore.
From arts to cars, to furniture, and now to web design, minimalism is an important movement. The ‘less is more’ approach has proven itself while also achieving efficiencies, sophistication, and innovation. When done correctly, a minimalist website is easy to understand, easy to navigate, and aesthetically pleasing.
Minimalism: How much can you take away from an item
without losing its essential purpose and identity?
Although minimalism or simple infers less work and effort, that is far from the truth. Simple web designs are strategically stripped of excess features to deliver a crystal clear message and positive user experience.
Why Simplify a Website?
The more visually complex a website, the more difficult it is for the human brain to process all of the site’s elements. When you visit a website with numerous light variations and a number of different colors, there is a high level of visual complexity. Your eyes are converting the visual information and sending it to your brain where it is stored and coded. A low complexity website, on the other hand, doesn’t require the eyes and brain to work as hard to process the information. This simplicity makes the visit all the more enjoyable.
Less Products = More Focus
The cardinal rule of e-commerce is that shoppers want as little hassle as possible. And whether the customer is visiting your site to make a purchase, or visiting your site for information, they want, and expect, a simple and fast experience.
In order to not drive customers away it is best to reduce clutter and follow some tried and true methods.
- List only what you need. The biggest aspect of simple design is only showing what is needed to make a sale. This doesn’t mean withholding information. Just make sure that if the user wants more information, then they can find it. “Learn More” and “See More” are common links to solve this problem.
- Reduce clicks: The fewer number of clicks, the greater the returns. Amazon, for example, with 1-click ordering has removed any hoops for their users to jump through to make a purchase. Perhaps this is why they are the world’s largest retailer.
- Reduce columns: As more columns are added to a page, the content is incrementally smaller. This minimizes the focus on the main product/element and adds more stuff that the user is not interested in.
- The “Grandma” Rule: If an elderly person can figure out how to buy a product from your site, it’s probably put together well. Unneeded and excess information will cause Grandma to hit the ‘back button’. Make it simple by making it Grandma-friendly.
How to Create a Simpler Site
When planning a simpler site here are a few things to consider as you begin the process.
- Know your audience: Research your audience and know what they like. Know their interests, what other sites they visit and see if those sites have areas where yours can improve. Your site must resonate with them and speak to them effectively.
- Keep it simple: If one large image works, do that instead of using a bunch of small ones. Use one column instead of three. Use white space to accentuate and leverage your products.
- Optimize for multiple devices: A highly usable website is not flashy. It does not have flash banners, animations, or pop-ups interfering with the user experience. These characteristics are common in mobile-optimized websites which are incredibly important in today’s mobile world.
- Use your own colors, logo, and typeface to communicate: There is no need to have additional copy or images unless it communicates something your visitor is interested in.
- Answer all questions right away: The design should clearly answer “Who I am,” “What I do,” and “What can the visitor do here”. If visitors can identify what it is you do within seconds, they are more likely to stick around.
- Include calls-to-action (CTAs): The goal of your homepage is to compel visitors to dig deeper into your website. Effectively using calls-to-action will direct visitors to the next step, and can turn your homepage into a sales or lead-generation tool.
Use your homepage layout, proper CTA placement, whitespace, colors, fonts, and other elements in a simple website design to build trust, communicate purpose, and navigate visitors to the next step. Put the most important message forward and remove unwanted distractions. Simplifying your website may seem counterintuitive, but in reality, it is outstanding for business!