The KISS method works for almost everything in life. You want less clutter, a better budget or an improved level of fitness? The simplest approach will probably be the most successful. There’s no need to complicate things.
This holds especially true for websites. The most effective websites are often the most simple. They cut down on the clutter and attention grabbers, and just offer a quality site. No gimmicks.
What makes a site overly complicated and distracting?
- Flash intro pages (or Flash in general)
- Too many advertisements
- Overly bright, attention grabbing colors
- A cluttered sidebar
- Unused features
- Off-topic pages
- Complicated navigation
- Distracting graphics
Your site doesn’t need a dozen special features to be successful. A simplified site is usually faster and more user-friendly than sites that are cluttered up and difficult to use. To start simplifying your site, first look through each page and take note of anything that does not benefit the purpose of your site. Every last feature, piece of content and image should have a specific purpose. Cut anything that doesn’t really belong.
Check your navigation. Your navigation should be the simplest thing on your website. You want users to find exactly what they’re looking for, without making them jump through hoops. Make your navigation intuitive, with descriptive and accurate links. Include a search for users who are looking for something specific. Put links to your most popular content in your sidebar to make them easier to find. Just be careful to not over-clutter your sidebars. Like the rest of your website, everything in them should be there for a specific purpose. In fact, because the space in your sidebars is so valuable, you should only use them for the most essential links, information and features.
Say goodbye to unnecessary content. If you have content that isn’t benefiting your site, you need to reconsider whether or not it really needs to be there. Your website should benefit the user. If you have content that is only there for SEO purposes or that doesn’t add to your site, get rid of it. This problem usually manifests slowly; one blog post that is almost on topic, and then a related one that also doesn’t quite fit. Soon, you’re knee deep in posts that don’t quite fit your current site. Don’t junk these; consider building a second site based around this new interest.
Moving towards a simpler website doesn’t need to be an all-day job. Tackle the biggest offenders first, and then spread out the rest of the work over several days or weeks. Take it page by page until you’re left with a simpler, better functioning website.