Cleaner Websites Are Easier To Use

Mar 24, 2010

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When working at a web design firm performing SEO you see a lot of website and browse through a lot of competitor sites as well. One of the things that I notice a lot myself is the vast array of websites that look like they were put together like abstract art, you know where you take the paint can and throw it against the wall and see what turns out. This is what it seems like some websites look like because they are jumbled with a lot of stuff. Cleaner websites are easier to use and navigate. When it comes to home page design having a lot of text is not of great benefit if it just spans down the page like an article, instead you want to break up the content into boxes of information even if you do not have boxes around the information. Most business owners get so comfortable with their own site that they do not look at it from the perspective of them being an average user. I always call the home page the highlight reel because that is the page where the majority of the users to a site will go and get their first impression. First impressions count a lot in the real world when you meet a person for the first time and the same is true when you visit a website for the first time. In less than 3 seconds your subliminal mind is already forming impressions while your eyes are quickly trying to navigate the page. As they eyes quickly move around a webpage they are looking for anchor points that they can hold onto in order to better process information. Websites that are not clean can cause problems for the eyes as their is no clear cut way to navigate, thus making the eyes have to travel more which is called eye miles. Eyes can get tired at looking at messy information really fast. Here is an example of a website that needs to be cleaned up:
george hutchins home page screenshot

As you move around this webpage with your eyes you will notice that you were trying to grab onto something for you to do. It is human nature to look for things that we can do or in this case click with our mouse. As you are on this page your eyes almost start to hurt because they are not sure what to do. This is a classic example of a waste of a webpage unless you are trying to get on the ugliest webpage of the year award. Here is an example of a website that is clean and has clear calls to action: home page screenshot

As you will notice I decided to grab Innovation Simple’s home page because it has the elements of an easy to use home page with clear navigation, clear calls to action and the information is in boxes making it easier for the eyes to quickly scan and find the area that they want to go to. Home pages are all about highlighting what the site offers and the main ways to get to those major parts of the site. Other things to also make note besides have clear calls to action and information in box style is to remember the colors that are on the site. Colors play a huge role in the way the eye sees and moves around to find information. Having a bunch of colors on the site trying to ram it down the users throat is not the way to go. Then there are websites that are not completely on the horrible end of the scale and at the same time they are not completely on the good end of the scale either. Some websites do have some good qualities, but have areas where they could improve. Here is an example of a website that needs some quick fixes: home page screenshot

You will notice in this site that they do have content in boxes and it is a little easier on the eye, however the content is not laid out effectively to where the eye can quickly read the content. It takes some time to process even when the content is seperated into box style. The first thing that would need to be fixed is the navigation as it is small and jumbled together. This website would have greater success with that simple change. The boxes at the bottom of the page is a good idea, however the content in them is not conforming and the customer testimonials headline is barely readable. Their is an ad for CEO Mom DotCom which makes me think why I need to click it as their is no call to action telling me anything. This is greatly out of place. The sample sale box is great and the find us on Facebook is great, the Blogspot is not good as they are sending me to a free blog on another site with a whole other look. It would be best to have a custom blog on the domain instead of sending a user to some Blogspot address. All of the things we have talked about today covers some simple website analysis and website usability. When you are thinking about building and designing a webpage, please do not make it any harder than it has to be. Simply organize your content on your home page so a user can quickly look at it and know what you offer and how to maneuver through the site faster. And remember cleaner websites are always easier to use, do not jumble things together. Even if you do have a lot of information, there are still easy ways to break them into sections making it easy for the eyes to quickly find and process.

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