Keep It Simple, Smartie!


Photo courtesy of Phu Son Nguyen

Have you taken a good look at your site lately? Go ahead, do it now. What do you see? Are you still in love with the design? Does it still give you the same thrill as when you first launched it?

Or is it starting to look a little cluttered? Maybe a little worn around the edges and could use a new coat of paint?

Perhaps you know you need changes but you can’t put your finger on what’s wrong?

One of the most difficult things to do is a redesign of your own site. Don’t feel bad, we went through it too. We can design all day long for someone else, but when it comes to what we want, the old brain immediately decides to take a day off.

But I Like My Site!

I’m sure you do. We all like our sites to some degree. I’ll let you in on a little secret though; your site isn’t for you.

That’s right. You are not designing a site for yourself. And I’m not designing a site for you either. So, if neither one of us is designing a site for you, who exactly are we designing for?

Your visitors. That’s who.

Think about it, you’re trying to attract a specific audience (your ideal client), not other people who can do the same thing you can. You can already do what you do. You want to provide for people who can’t do what you do. They need you.

And while you may have all the latest widgets and flash galleries, and the sharpest code ever behind the scenes, none of that is going to help you much. When it comes right down to it, your visitors don’t care.

What Do Visitors Care About?

Information. Whether that information is in the content area, the navigation bar, the sidebars or the footer, it has to be so obvious a blind man could see it.

Not that visitors are stupid. Not by a long shot. On the contrary, your visitors are very intelligent, busy people. And it is for this reason that your information has to be clear and concise.

The moment a visitor has to start poking around trying to find what they need, they’re gone. They can’t be bothered. And admit it, you’ve done that too. I know I have. Frequently.

Provide your visitors with what they need right up front. Lay it all out before them like a buffet.

The Information Age

Nearly a decade ago information didn’t travel half as fast as it does now and it’s getting faster everyday. Do any of us really take the time anymore to leisurely sit and read a morning paper cover to cover? Or sit down and write with an actual pen?

If you do, you are in a declining minority. Who has the time? It’s so much faster to type or read our news on the web.

Your website has to function the same way. The days of splash pages and unnecessary bling are drawing to a close as audiences become more mature in their viewing tastes. Websites are are growing up and evolving right before our eyes, presenting information at record speed to keep up with busy lives. With so many sources available to find our information, audiences are becoming ever more selective in choosing where and how they utilize blogs and websites.

Complicated or disorganized layout? Too difficult to search through? Not enough well written content once you baited the hook?  The reader will be off and gone to the next provider of simple, easy to find information that can be handed to them on a silver platter ready to feast on.

Visit Your Own Front Door

Try this. Close your eyes for a second and pretend you have never been to your site before. Then open them and click on your home page and observe your site with fresh eyes as if you were a brand new visitor. How do the colors make you feel? Is the navigation easy to search through? Does the overall theme project the image you would like to convey? What are the benefits of your clients staying on your site more then a few minutes? What overall value are you providing to them?

If you find it hard to answer these questions, there is a good chance your clients can’t answer them either.

A Helping Hand is Easy to Find

If you can’t be objective and take that fresh eyed view, consider grabbing an honest friend who will tell you the truth. Or your Mom. If she can’t figure out your site, you might have a little work to do to simplify things. And of course, if you are looking for the professional team that can help take your website into the next generation of website functionality and design, look no further, Blue Sun Studio  is always here with a helping hand to get you where you need to go.

To get you started, from now until Labor Day, we’re promoting our Creativepreneur Package. Each package includes a custom theme designed on the Genesis framework, optin form and newsletter template (using your existing AWeber, Constant Contact or Mail Chimp account), one freebie ebook with cover and interior layout (up to 20 pages you’ve written), and 30 days of tech/training support.

As an added bonus, you’ll also get our new, not yet released to the public WordPress Guide for Newbies ebook AND a set of social networking backgrounds for Twitter, Facebook and YouTube (a $300 value).

Our summer schedule is filling up fast. Contact us today to get started!

Comments

  1. says

    Thank you, Deb! Please don’t make me wait while animation and music and videos load up. I am visiting a site for a reason, and unless it’s youtube, it likely isn’t for entertainment. It’s for information. And chances are pretty good I am comparison shopping, so the information better be easy to find and process.

    Not to say that aesthetics isn’t important. I want to also know the business owner took the time to put together a quality product. That gives me some warm and fuzzies that they are going to provide me with a quality product or service. But I can definitely do without the bling.
    .-= Eliza’s last blog post… The (Mis)Adventures of Mike: Mapping out business processes =-.

  2. says

    You’re welcome, Eliza! I really do think that the trends for next year are going to lean more towards practical sites, rather than ones with a whole bunch of new gadgets on it that do nothing more than dazzle.

    All those gadgets have a function, the trick is finding the right ones to help you get your message across in the most direct way possible. Doesn’t matter what the medium is, when it’s used correctly, it makes an impact. They just don’t have to be used all at once ;)

  3. says

    Wow, Deb. For someone who doesn’t totally enjoy blogging, your posts sure are good!

    I’m ashamed to admit that when I read my site wasn’t for me, it was kind of a shock. DUH! But yeah, I’ve been totally selfish, thinking about what *I* like. Luckily, it’s simplicity and clean design and some other stuff you mentioned, for the most part, and I do like fantasy and dark themes, which pretty much goes with the EQ mood.

    But I have to say I’m relieved you’ll be helping me pull the focus away from my personal taste (which I can’t seem to satisfy, even with this current theme) to create something for my visitors. In the end, I need something I keep for a long time, something I don’t change on them every weekend, but mostly something they’ll find welcoming and easy to navigate as well as valuable.

    Thanks for this!

    I

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