It is possible to have too much of a good thing.
While it’s no secret that we love great content, the fact remains. Whether it’s your mum telling you about her most recent date or the clickbait “articles” clogging up what used to be your favourite news site, too much information is never a good thing.
Getting the right amount of content on a page or site is a very fine balance. You want to give visitors what they need but you don’t want to overload them with unnecessary information.
Exhibit A …
and Exhibit B …
(It’s always worth including Yvette’s Bridal Formal!)
The best websites make it easy for the user to get where they’re going, find the right information and take action.
Web design should always be kept minimal; not because it’s fashionable or looks good but because it makes the visitor want to continue their journey.
Plus, it’s easier on the eye. We all spend so much time looking at screens, scrolling up and down, getting headaches from the glare. Be kind to your users – give them clear, effective messaging and an easy-peasy user experience. Whatever your business objectives, get those two right and you’ll get more page conversions.
Let’s talk temptation. When putting a web page together it can be tempting to want to tell the customer all about your company, what it does and what it sells. “What if they don’t know that we sell this?” you wonder. “What if they take their business elsewhere?” “What if they miss all the cool stuff about our story and values?”
Your customers are smarter than you think. They came to you for a reason and if they wan’t to find to find something on your site, they’ll search for it. Make sure they can find it easily when they do.
Spoiled for choice
In his 2004 book The Paradox of Choice – Why More is Less, Barry Schwartz argues that eliminating consumer choices can greatly reduce anxiety for shoppers. In the most general sense, human beings don’t benefit psychologically from being faced with too many choices. In fact, being given too many options often leads to “analysis paralysis,” a state where so much over-thinking and consideration goes into making a decision that action is never taken.
As a designer you have ultimate control over the density of content on your site. Keep your content low-calorie; clean, light and meaningful.
Sweet design: points to consider
Consider what the ultimate goal is that your page is trying to achieve. All elements on your page should be striving towards accomplishing that goal.
Don’t assume that everyone uses the internet in the same way you do. The best web design makes using a web page easy for even the most occasional web user.
- Consider responsivity; will your content be affected by whether the user is viewing it on mobile and desktop?
- Embrace clean design with lots of white space
- Use high-quality images, graphic and photography – but always err on the side of “less is more”. If it doesn’t serve a functional purpose – get rid of it
- Make sure you include big, unmissable call-to-action buttons
- Include persuasive messaging above the CTA button
- Allow the user to leave ‘breadcrumbs’ as they move through the site so they can see where they are in their journey
- Avoid using too many colours – instead try and stick to a limited palette of about five
- Include a search box
- Limit navigation options
- Be consistent – everything should work together as a whole
- Stick with elements that people are familiar with e.g. the shopping cart, the search bar, navigation in the footer
Finally, remember that too little content in web design can be as bad as too much – if not worse! Run tests and adjust your site until you hit that sweet spot.