If I asked you to envision the internet’s most popular website, what would pop into your head?
It might not be what you think.
The single most popular page on the world wide web has exactly six words on it; it’s roughly 95 percent blank. In fact, of the six words, only one is written prominently. The other five amount to just fine print.
This most visited page on the web is, of course, is www.google.com!
The example Google has set with it’s homepage since its launch in 1998 is the most enduring argument for simplifying your website.
Veteran website design author Steve Krug probably said it best with the title of his website usability guide, published just three years after Google’s launch. The title? “Don’t Make Me Think.”
The book is currently in its third edition and translated into 20 languages. Its titular point still applies to web design in 2017. Think less in terms of broadcasting what you are all about, and consider more strongly the way your site will be used.
Most people who come to your site will be coming for a reason. Very few will be idly perusing your content. Your site’s job is to make it easy for people to find what they are looking.
Here a five tips on how to create a site that helps visitors find what they are looking for.
1) Edit your writing, then edit some more.
Mark Twain’s 19th century witicism about writing holds true even for web content: “If I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter.”
Take the time to shorten your web content - especially on your home page - to only the elements your site visitor will need. When you have distilled your message, consider how to make the most important words bold and beautiful.
Single words or phrases in large typeface with well-chosen fonts make a lasting impression.
2) Obvious navigation
The two most important elements of a site’s navigation menu are a home button and a contact button. Make these items obvious and consistent throughout your site.
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A clickable logo is not enough of a prompt for people to recognize a home button. Make your home button say “home.” Your site visitors should always know where they are within your site, what their options are, and how to get back to your homepage. Remember: Don’t make them think!
3) Design for scanners, not readers
A consistent hierarchy of heading styles and obvious link buttons go a long way to satisfy scanners. People should know with reasonable assurance that they will find what they are looking for when they click on a link. To this end, make sure your link buttons have concise, informative text.
4) Group pages logically
If your main navigation menu has dropdown options, give a lot of thought to how you want to group your internal web pages and make sure your groupings make sense.
5) Test your site’s usability
Watching a first-time visitor use your website is fascinating, and very informative. Ideally, you’ll set up a series of testing sessions with random people trying to complete pre-planned tasks on your site. Through observing them and taking note of their mouse strokes, you’ll be able to refine your site’s usability.
These practices may not get you to Google-level simplicity, but they will help you create a site that delights visitors and furthers your goals.
Thanks for stopping by,
Breezy Hill Marketing is a Vermont web design company serving clients throughout the United States. We specialize in marketing strategy and social media marketing. We build beautiful, optimized and mobile responsive websites.