Why Simple Websites Work Best

Simple websites

We know that simple website design works best. At least, we’ve been told that. But why?

What is it about simple designs that makes them timeless, functional, and beautiful?

When you’re creating your own website, part of the reason a simple design style is so appealing is that — frankly — it means less work for you. After all, pages that are unfussy, uncluttered and clear are just easier to put together.

But there’s a lot more to it than that. There are three important reasons that you should consider paring down your website’s design elements and embracing simplicity.

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1. Simple websites load faster

How fast does your website appear on screen after you land on one of your pages? If it loads slowly, you’ll pay for it. How?

  • Visitors will click away impatiently before it loads.
  • Your site will come up lower in search results because Google uses site speed as part of its ranking algorithm.
  • Many of your pages  will never see the light of day.

There’s nothing wrong with images on your site, for example. It’s a good idea to use images in your marketing.  But don’t use so many they slow your site down. And be sure they’re optimized to load fast.

2. Simple websites are easier to understand

Imagine living in a dark cave for many months. When you finally emerge after spending so much time below, your first reaction is to notice the blinding light, the variety of colors, the feel of the fresh air on your skin. There are so many sensory experiences happening at once, it’s overwhelming.

People arriving on your website are similarly disoriented. They’re not sure where they are, what they’ve found, or how to get around this new place.

Presenting information in the simplest, most pared-down way possible gives them a chance to get their bearings, adapt to the new environment, and quickly and easily find what they want.

Here are some tips for making your site easy to use, even for brand-new visitors:

  • Make your text easy to skim by using lots of subheads to break up the paragraphs of copy.
  • Unclutter your sidebar. Feature only the most essential information you need to convey. Consider moving some of your information to your footer, your About page, or elsewhere on your site.
  • Use submenus in your navigation to group similar pages together. This will allow you to streamline your navigation menu and make it easier to use.
  • Label your navigation items with universally understood terms. This isn’t the place to be cutesy or tricky.

3. Simple websites are a departure from the ordinary

Here’s another reason simple websites are great: by presenting your information simply, your site will stand out from most of the other sites on the web.

Did you ever see a home page that looked like it was designed by committee?

There’s a little of this, a little of that, a splash of the other. It looks like every department in the company was clamoring to be represented.

The result? A page that may make the internal folks feel great, but it’s a mess for the site visitor. They have to wade through way too much to get to what they’re looking for.

That’s why simple can be so surprising. It’s like a breath of fresh air in the midst of a cluttered Internet experience.

Simple really is beautiful. Ready to embrace it? Sign up for The Elements of Website Style, and head down to the comments to talk about what you’re doing to simplify your site.

Photo Credit: Nanagyei via Compfight cc

Comments

  1. says

    So, so, so agree with this, especially point #3. Many people try to over-design their sites to make it stand out, but simplicity helps make a website stand out much more. Am bookmarking this post and sending my friends here ;)

    • says

      Thanks, David. It’s hard, because we see so much design around us that when it comes time to design our sites, we want to add a little of everything! But keeping it simple really does make a site stand out.

      Thanks for sharing the post. I appreciate it. :-)

  2. says

    Hi Pamela

    I also like simple. I believe that is becoming more of a norm these days. People do not have time. When they land on a site they want to find exactly what they searched for. They do not have time for distractions.

    The popular premium theme designers seem to understand that. They offer wonderful choices of simple yet very up to date and in keeping with the 21st century requirements, theme designs.

    Thanks for sharing,

    Dita

    • says

      I agree, Dita: premium themes tend to be pretty simple and clean. It’s hard to keep them that way, but we have to resist the urge to add clutter!

  3. says

    In all honesty this has been one of the most difficult concepts for me. I have I think over come the temptation to load a site full of distraction and have gone to the simple life. I can remember when the web was just starting out…everyone was on dial-up, some on 2400bps modems getting a page to load that was full of heavy graphics was an all day affair.

    I think that with technical advancement comes laziness in a way. Back then in order to write a program the programmer had to mindful of the amount of space a program took to reside on disk. After all a typical floppy only held between 720k and 1.44mb. Most people only had a meg or less of ram and only 640k of that could only be used at a time. Now websites have gone the way of programs when it comes to how they are designed and work after the introduction of nearly everyone having high speed (by the way I live in south Georgia in the country and have to use a prepaid mifi in order to be able to get something resembling high speed at home), Why worry about a lot of overhead when everyone has high speed?

    In my opinion (now) having less is actually more…it makes it easier to actually highlight the actual message…people are impatient, even more so these days so having something super light and fast is much more likely to get a positive response than something that has to be interpreted.

    • says

      Hi Brad,

      I think people forget that not everyone has a fast Internet connection. You make a great point that simplicity is as much about how fast the site loads, as it is about the way the site looks.

      Thanks for your comment!

  4. says

    You’ve inspired me. I KNOW that simple is best, but I’ve allowed my home page to get cluttered with a lot of junk. The clean out starts today. Thanks for this. :-)