The most advanced solutions should be simple

Article read time: 3 minutes

Web technology is always evolving at a rapid pace and we’re all constantly looking for the latest, most advanced solutions.

This has led to many fantastic websites being developed that make life more enjoyable for the user, and make more money for the website owner.  But “advanced solutions” don’t inherently make a website better, and if you’re not careful could even make it worse.  Because what makes a website really great is not technology, but simplicity.

Technology is great if it helps make lives simpler for people, but all too often people think that technology = good.  When you become too focussed on technology, you forget that websites are all about people, not machines, and that people like things to be simple.

Simplicity can be powerful – Ella’s Dad http://www.flickr.com/photos/ellasdad/

Simplicity should be the top priority in every aspect of a website design and build, no matter who the client or the target audience.

Here are 5 examples of how simplicity makes websites better:

Content Management

If you have a content management system that is simple to use and organised in a simple way, then you’ll find it easier to create and edit content, and will therefore do so more often, keeping your website more up to date.  This is one of the reasons why WordPress has become so popular.

Coding

A simple design is easier to code, which means that the website can be developed faster and more cheaply.  Not only that, but the simpler the code, the less potential there is for glitches, and if a glitch does occur it will be much easier to find and fix.  This also means that future enhancements of the website will be easy to implement, and the website will be cheap and easy to maintain.  Simple code also means that your website will load faster, which is always a good thing.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Despite what you might think, compared to human visitors, search engines are not very clever.  So if you want good search engine rankings you need to make things simple for them.  Organise your code well and put everything exactly where they expect it to be, in the format that they expect it to be in.  Don’t try to be too clever about it.  This is particularly true with your content.  Keep each page and post of your site focussed on a clear topic rather than mixing lots of different subjects on the same page.  That way it will be clear and simple to the search engines what your web pages are about.

Conversion Optimisation

Most people have an objective for their website, whether it be to generate sales and leads, or to simply get people commenting on their blog.  But your website won’t achieve these things if it is too complicated.  Your messaging should be simple, the design of the pages should be simple so that people can easily see what they are looking for, and the process of taking action (e.g. making an enquiry) should be dead simple.  When it comes to conversions, simplicity is proportional to success.  As soon as you start adding barriers and making things complicated, people give up and start looking elsewhere.

Communication

This has pretty much been covered above, but it is worth emphasising.  If you have a website then you must be trying to communicate something.  So what is it?  Keep your ideas simple and present them in ways that are simple to understand, and people will get your message.  If you try to present a complex message in a complex format then most people will not have a clue what you are talking about.  As I said in a recent post, treat your website visitors like they are stupid, and they will thank you for it.  Simple messages and simple images are always more powerful.

Keep it simple stupid!

If you’ve studied management then you’ll no doubt know that one of the universal top management acronyms is KISS:Keep It Simple Stupid!  Take this lesson on board, and you will have a better and more successful website.

If you have any experieces of how you made a website better by keeping it simple, or how it went wrong by being too complicated, feel free to share your experiences in the comments.

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