Is Your Website Confusing People? Probably.

Are you familiar with the “KISS rule”? (As in, Keep It Simple, Stupid.)

It’s a good strategy for a lot of things, but an especially good one when it comes to websites. The simpler your site is to read and navigate, the more likely people are to find what they’re looking for and make a purchase.

So how do you follow the KISS rule? Kissmetrics Blog (get it?) has a few tips:

“1. No ads. None. Period.

Ads on your homepage are a major no-no. Unless you’re running a site whose primary purpose is ad revenue, then ditch the ads completely.

Ads inject tons of complexity into a website. Only use ads if your business is ads.

2. Reconsider the Sidebar

Do you really need a sidebar?

Brian Dean, conversion guru, used Crazy Egg to discover that a paltry 1.9% of his visitors clicked on his sidebar.

brian-dean-crazy-egg-stat
This was a problem. Why? Because that sidebar was his conversion goal — a social squeeze page.

I’ve wondered if the sidebar — a fixture of most blogs (even one of my blogs) — is actually a distraction.

3. Make Your Homepage a Place of Absolute Simplicity

The page that matters most is your homepage. Your homepage should set the tone for the rest of the website — simple, clear and free of distraction.

Look at the website of designer Jonas Lindvall. It takes minimalism to the nth degree, and showcases an extremely subtle design (look for it).

Jonas-Lindvall-design-screenshot
The beauty of the website is its simplicity. The user knows what they should do next.

4. Use Your Above-the-Fold Real Estate For One Thing

An easy way to apply the principle of simplicity is to think of it like this: What is the one thing I want the user to do when they are on this page?

If you were to ask people in your website what they want users to do on the website, you’d get tons of different responses:

  • We want them to start a free trial.
  • We want them to read the blog.
  • We want them to enter their contact information so we can add them to the mailing list.
  • We want them to find out about our team.
  • We want them to click the “products” menu.

Clear the table and start fresh: What is the one thing that you want the user to do?

Find out, and then design the website around that one thing. You can still provide a menu, giving the user flexibility and option, but don’t force them to think hard. Give them simplicity, and they will be more likely to do what you want them to do.”

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