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How to Simplify Your Website

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How to Simplify Your Website

Melanie Innis

Is your site starting to look like the Maxwell Street Market?

When it’s time for a website redesign, people say they want something “clean” and “modern.” Often what they mean is “simple” and “uncluttered.” Usually, this is because their current site is a cluttered mess.

It’s not easy, but you can make the tough choices and clean house. You can simplify your existing website. If you need a little courage, consider this:

Removing links is good for visitors (and conversions).

Ask yourself these three questions:

• What three things do you want visitors to know about your business?

• What two things are most important to your audience?

• What is the single most important thing you want visitors to do on your website?
It’s simple, right? This is what really matters. Now ask yourself:

• Why do you have 22 links and buttons in your navigation?

It may not really be that many, but it’s likely there are more than necessary. Take a few away. Visitors will have an easier time finding what they’re looking for. And you’ll have an easier time guiding them toward the things you’d like them to find. In other words, simplicity is good for the visitors’ experience, which is good for converting those visitors into leads and customers.

There’s a secret to making something stand out: take other things away.

Removing links is good for search engine rankings (and traffic).

Simplifying your navigation is good SEO. When a home page has too many links, it passes less “link juice” to each page to which it links. This makes those interior pages less likely to rank. Lots of links will dilute the trust and authority the home page can hand down.

Use a link juice calculator to see how many links and buttons are on your homepage. You might be surprised at how many there are. More than 100? Get out the scissors and start cutting. Even Amazon.com has only 97. If they can do it, you can.

Remove links from the home page to help your other pages rank higher.

I don’t always update my website, but when I do, I stay branded.

Remember, every time you add an element to a page, you make everything else on the page less prominent. But there’s a time and a place for new additions.

Adding content doesn’t necessarily mean adding new visual themes. Designer Mary Fran Wiley recommends using care and attention when adding images to ensure the website is consistent with the brand.

“I often see clients so very excited to be able to update their website without the help of a designer or developer, only to check in on their site six months later to find that none of the imagery on the website follows the intended look and feel.”

Adding the wrong image will instantly hurt the simplicity of the “clean, modern” design that you and your visitors really want (not to mention your designer).

Discipline.

You must show discipline in the face of pressure to add to the navigation, to lengthen descriptions, to make everything bigger and louder. Here are a few more ways to simplify your website:

• Ask for less information in your forms. Shorter forms convert more visitors.

• Trim out typical marketing copy. Speak plainly. Be helpful, not sales-y.

• Use fewer text styles. Limit your font choices to two or three.

• Don’t be everything to everyone. It’s impossible to have a simple site if you have six messages for four target audiences. Pick your battles.

Next time you feel the urge to add something to your home page, resist. Ask yourself if it’s truly important to visitors. If not, don’t do it. But if you do add something, be faithful to the brand.

This may be my single best piece of web marketing advice: keep it simple.

Andy Crestodina is the Strategic Director of Orbit Media, a Chicago ecommerce company. You can find Andy on and Twitter.

Related Topics Guest Blog, SEO, Marketing
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