Simplicity Is Hard Work

Whenever I meet prospects, the first thing they remark is that they’ve seen the websites we’ve built for clients and these websites are simple. Straightforward.

While most designers might be offended by this remark, I don’t – in fact, I can almost do a cartwheel. I feel glad.

The most recent comment came yesterday during a meeting with a soon-to-be client. She had been going through a list of client websites which we had sent her and she said the websites were simple. She said she could understand the information as well as find information quickly.

Most people think designing a simple website is an easy job. Please don’t confuse simplicity with ease-of-design.

It is easy to be complicated, to design as one pleases, without consideration for the website visitor. You have probably seen a number of complicated websites on the Internet; it does not take much to overfill a website with details, information in all shapes and typefaces, graphics which make no sense and contribute not at all to the overall purpose of a website. Websites crammed full of everything and anything which the website owner believes should be there. But websites like these make navigation extremely very difficult for the website visitor.

That’s why I say, it’s easy to be complicated. Even easier to design a complicated website full of stuff and fluff.

But our job is not to overcomplicate. Our job as web design people is to help our clients understand that we (yes, we as in the client and ourselves, the designers) do not call the shots.

Whether a website succeeds or fails should be evaluated from the perspective of a website visitor. Why? Because a website is designed to deliver value (which in any case should be information) to the website visitor. This means, we always ask the number one question: Can the website visitor find what he or she came looking for?

For us, we plan for simplicity and organised structure before we design any website. It is easy to just dump all information into a website (the designer doesn’t evaluate the information – he will just copy and paste the text directly as per his customer’s request anyway. His job is “just design”). It’s a million times harder to think about how information should flow, where the website visitor should proceed, how the information should be structured and more.

While it is hard work building simplicity into any website, the experience is obvious when the website is used by our clients’ clients. They tell us that they can find what they need. They can understand what’s written on the website. More importantly, they stay on the website long enough to find what they need. They enjoyed the web experience. And if they liked the experience, definitely they’ll return again.

The next time you visit a website, ask yourself if you’ve enjoyed navigating the website. If the experience turned you off, find out why and don’t put your website visitors through the same rigmarole when they come to your website!

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