Web Design – Why More is Sometimes Less

by Gabriella Sannino October 26th, 2010 

minimalistorange Your last web design was bland. It had as much pizzaz as your neighbors 19-year-old Chihuahua, which, incidentally, always looks like a sick, drowned rat. You were getting okay conversion rates, but you can never have too many conversions, right? Right.

You hire one of the top designers, suggested by the top web designer review site. You pay extra for a whole bunch of really cool bells and whistles. It has flash and robots that speak to your customers and answer questions. Since the robots do all the talking, you dont need more than a sentence or two as far as content goes; the designer mentioned something about videos and text, but text just looks stupid so its better to leave it off, right? Right.

You add Musac in the background, because its what plays in the elevators of fancy corporations (and arent you now a fancy corporation online?). Yes, you even turn yourself into a talking head. Why not? If youre old bland site brought in conversion, this new bells and whistles design will really sell some product, right? Right.

- And you got it all for a steal at only $10,000

Now youre taking off the bubble wrap, dusting off the fingerprints and leaning back. Youre pumped, because the sales are going to just start roooolling in, right?

Right?

Ten Grand Do Nothing Site

Unfortunately, dear, youve just paid ten grand for a website that wont do well at all. You see, the search engines cant see most of that awesome stuff you just put on your new site, so they wont be rushing to put you on the front page. In fact, search engines look at that shiny new website like you do your neighbors Chihuahua

Chihuahua Flash, videos and gizmos show up as a big, fat zilch to the search engine bots. They cant see that stuff, dont care about that stuff, and dont want that stuff. What they want is what was on your old bland site: good old-fashioned content and quality, relevant links. What does this mean? It means you had better start getting some keywords, links and information on your site in order to be noticed by the search engines.

Do they want to be blasted by Musac, searching frantically and in vain for the mute button? Do they want to be forced to view your videos to get information they could read in a few minutes? Do they want to wait while your artsy flash loads? I think I speak for most when I say, No along with not in this lifetime and Id kill myself first.

This could be all in my head. Your new website design may be beautiful, wonderful and bring in tons of conversions. I could be wrong. How do you find out the true reaction?

Well, the search engines will tell you by their rankings. Watch them, because you very well might drop like a stone in a pond. A good SEO will tell you also; you can grab a report from them.

If you want to know what your visitors are saying, have a look at your web logs. On what page did they land? How long did they stay? Did they move to other pages like your contact or sales? OR did they view your web design and move straight (and quick) to the back button?

Sometimes your web logs will tell you what your best friends wont. Sometimes the search engines will tell you what your best friends wont. For that matter, Ill tell you what your best friends wont. When it comes to web design, SEO and search engines, sometimes less is better.

Finally, remember how you feel about your neighbors Chihuahua dont have a website that, ultimately, looks like a drowned rat no matter how much bling it has on it.

Gabriella Sannino

For the past twenty years Gabriella has held positions as a consultant, web developer and creative director until she decided it was time to open Level 343, an SEO and copywriting company. She fancies herself an Italian rocker, rebel and SEO geek. She loves singing in the shower and keeps a notepad next to her bed.

Level343 Blog

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4 Responses to “Web Design – Why More is Sometimes Less”

  1. Shockley Au says:

    Good post! Forget the gimmicks and focus on what's really important.

  2. John Soares says:

    Love this advice. Took this advice.

    I recently had my main business blog and my hiking blog redesigned. Simplicity and lack of clutter was what I wanted most, and I got it.

    I'm less apt to interact/follow blogs that give me too many things to do when I get there. I usually came because I want to read the latest post, and if I like that, I might subscribe. Over time I might buy.

    But too many options? I often leave and never come back.
    .-= John Soares recently posted: How to Win Multiple Freelance Writing Assignments =-.

    • Ruud Hein says:

      I recognize that!

      I think some clean, simple designs don't get approval because of the idea that those designs can't contain effective calls to action.

    • Gabriella says:

      Hello John thanks for the confidence :) - I come from the old school of thought "Minimalism" especially when it comes to your web presence. When I land on a site any site I want to know how to move around. Granted I work in the web industry and I see thousands of sites out there so maybe I'm not a good example of your "normal" web surfer. But, studies have shown that an average time spent on a site is anywhere from 3-5 seconds before they make a decision of whether to stay or move on. Somehow you brought them in whether through PPC/article/blog//SEO – Those 3 to 5 seconds become crucial and that's where minimalism of design added with content that converts (can be signing up to your newsletter, or downloading a .pdf) whatever the "action" is make it clear.
      .-= Gabriella recently posted: Landing Page ROI Getting Money to Fall Back into Your Pocket =-.