Michael Almond

It is somewhat surprising that despite the same advice being repeated for the past 20 years or so, several websites still don’t have a clear and coherent layout.

Way back in 1997, usability guru Jakob Nielsen revealed that 79 per cent of people read the web in chunks, whereas 16 per cent focused on every word. In a day and age where our attention spans have fallen through the floor, there is a strong chance that website “scanners” are now even more dominant.

Therefore, it is increasingly important that your website appears organised and orderly rather than messy and muddled. Not only because this is how most internet users prefer to browse the web, but also due to the impact it can have on user journeys and conversion rates.

Why a clean and de-cluttered site is so important

  • It can improve user experiences – With most online experiences starting at a search engine, it is easy for users to simply go back to the results page if they don’t like the look of your site. But by greeting them with a clean and crisp page, you are more likely to make a good first impression and keep visitors on your site.
  • It can reach more customers – Seeing as over 50 per cent of online searches now come from mobile, you need a website that looks good across every device, especially on smaller screens where space is at a premium. Design your site with clarity in mind and you will be able to reach a number of different audiences.
  • It can increase conversion rates – At the end of the day, converting customers will be the difference between success and failure online. Therefore, your site should be designed in a way that encourages each user to take action. Without any unnecessary distractions, you can lead potential customers to where they need to go.
  • It just looks better – Form and functionality is all well and good, but websites also need flair and finesse. This can be achieved with a minimalist approach, which ensures every minute detail is aesthetically imperative.

How to clean and de-clutter your website

As we have already written about extensively, the importance of wireframing cannot be underestimated. In addition to making it easier to plan where specific page elements will go, wireframing can also help with the arrangement of content.

This makes it even easier to clean and de-clutter your site. Wireframing will focus your attention on the fundamental foundations from which to build on. From there, you can slowly add more aesthetic and engaging elements without going over the top.

wireframe before and after example

Wireframing also creates an informational hierarchy where the user’s experience is brought to the fore. You will be able to determine which features are absolutely necessary and how content should be presented on each page for a more seamless browsing experience.

For these reasons, it might make sense to start from scratch with wireframing rather than trying to tidy up an already disorderly site.

6 principles of web design you should always abide by

Even though every website designer wants their creation to be unique and stand out, they will always abide by the same principles for the sake of the user. Some of the most important include:

1. Following Hick’s Law – Essentially, by increasing the user’s choices, you also increase their decision time. If you want customers to convert, give them less distractions and more obvious CTAs.

2. Using the law of thirds – This popular photography principle can also be applied to web design. Split the page into nine equal squares and place your most important elements at the four middle intersections.

rule of thirds

Image credit: interaction-design.org

3. Being aware of the “fold” – The top of any page remains crucial to catching the eye, but it is not the be all and end all of web design, as content further down deserves equal attention too.

4. Leveraging negative space (whitespace) – Negative space is a positive thing in terms of web design. Without it, your website would be a colourful mess. There’s a reason Google use an abundance of whitespace; to naturally focus your eyes to the centre of the page where the magic happens. Whitespace is one of the most simple methods of guiding the eyes of your audience.

google homepage use of whitespace

5. Not forgetting to K.I.S.S – In other words, “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” Always ask yourself whether your website could do without certain elements that could be distracting rather than helpful.

6. Remembering the 8-second rule – With only 8 seconds to keep your audience’s attention, remember to use arresting images, large headlines, powerful words, and captivating multimedia.

All of these aforementioned principles are geared towards smart and sharp web design, which does away with needless distractions and focuses on essential elements.

If you do the same, your website visitors are much more likely to enjoy their experience and be more likely to convert into something useful.

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Michael Almond

Posted By michael

Michael is a Front-end Developer at Tone – responsible for the design and implementation of forward thinking, responsive web designs. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelAlmondo