Are you concerned with owning a “good looking” website?
…Or are you concerned with owning a website that converts visitors into customers?
Fancy, flashy websites are often little more than ego-gratifying online calling cards, either on behalf of the designer or the business owner, who requested an “impressive” design. Consider how many times you’ve visited a website and thought, “Wow, this looks good!” and then proceeded to try and learn some rudimentary information about the company.
A lot of the time the experience goes like this: information as simple as a phone number or basic pricing are hidden beneath mountains of flash animations, auto-playing music or videos, and more recently, the latest and “greatest” HTML5 innovations. The website looks good, and may in fact be very impressive from a technological perspective, but from a functionality standpoint—there’s really no nice way to put this—it sucks.
Steve Krug, author of Don’t Make Me Think, puts it all into perspective very succinctly in the opening paragraphs of his book that should be required reading for web designers:
“…usability is about people and how they understand and use things, not about technology. And while technology often changes quickly, people change very slowly.”
Why Simplicity and Elegance Always Outperform Flashy Sites
We’ve been in the business of web design and development for a good long while now, and what we (and our clients) find to be the most “impressive” are websites that act as digital assets that increase conversions, enhance customer engagement, and contribute to the growth of an organization by means of, you know, actual revenue.
Functionality, or user-friendliness as it’s more often described, doesn’t mean you have to run a website that looks like it crawled out of 2003. The most beautiful websites tend to be focused on providing value to the visitor through content, and elegant, intuitive interfaces.
Some of the most popular websites on the entire internet are also the “ugliest,” if by ugly you mean “foregoing all the eye candy and pizazz for functionality.”
Think about sites like…
- The Drudge Report
- Hacker News (maybe you have to be geeks like us to know this one, but it gets tons of traffic)
- …And many others. One could even make an argument for the “ugliness” of sites like eBay or Bloomberg.
These websites all share one thing in common: visitors will almost never comment on how “beautiful” they are, but they will be able to navigate them easily, discover the information they came looking for, and, in many cases, become paying customers.
Craig Newmark, the Craig behind Craigslist, has an estimated net worth of over a billion dollars. His website has been described as “looking outdated” for years—but you know who doesn’t care about that?
Well, Craig obviously, but more importantly, the people who use Craigslist (and generated that billion-dollar-plus net worth). The site’s functional, straightforward design has no doubt directly contributed to its success.
Don’t miss the point here: we’re not saying that you should aspire to have a website that looks like Craigslist. What we mean is that your web design, whether you work with Optemyz, another firm, or do it yourself, should prioritize user-friendliness over fancy graphics.
What Does it Mean for You?
For most businesses, focusing on improving their website’s UX (user experience) means focusing on a few key elements:
- Basic information about your business is easily discovered. Information a potential customer must have like your phone number, address, the services you offer, pricing information and so on should always be easy to find. It makes no sense to hide these things.
- A solid understanding of your primary goal for visitors. If you had to name it, what would be the most important action a visitor on your website could take? Would it be to call you and schedule an appointment? To purchase a product? To sign up for your email marketing list? Once you know what this primary goal is, you can structure your website around encouraging users to do it—and making it incredibly easy to do so.
- Plenty of Calls to Action (CTAs). If you want a visitor on your website to take a certain action, you have to invite them to do it. Make it easy. For example, if you agree that your website should be an income-generating asset and not a visually-impressive digital knick-knack, give our team of experts at Optemyz a call at 480-330-9600.
- Remove clutter. When reviewing your website’s design, a great question to be constantly asking yourself is, “Does this really need to be here?” Elements of your website that aren’t providing value to your visitors or contributing to the visitor-customer funnel should be removed.
- Flow and intuitiveness are paramount. This is where the artistry of great web design comes into play. It’s hard to describe, but you know it when you see it. Intuitive design allows for visitors to effortlessly click from one page to the next, essentially going on a journey of discovery about your business that feels very natural and organic. By the time they’re done, they’ve learned everything they wanted to know and, ideally, decided to become a customer.
You’ll notice that none of these points directly reference what kinds of graphics, color palettes, or other visual elements you “should” be using on your website. There is no one-size-fits-all for these things—a high powered attorney’s website will look much different than the website for a new energy drink targeting a younger demographic, but both can draw from these points to enhance their user’s experience.
Closing Thoughts: The “Grandma Rule”
This is a bit of a joke, but kinda-sorta not really: if your grandma can navigate your website and gather the information she needs effortlessly, you’ve successfully built a user friendly website.
The main takeaway from this post is that you should toss the pizazz and focus on results-focused design elements. If you think your website could benefit from de-cluttering or you need a new site and want to get things started right, we’d love to discuss it with you. You can even bring your grandma.