The nature of what websites should do has completely changed in the last few years, due in part to the emergence of mobile devices and tablets as the dominant source of internet traffic. As our devices get smaller and smaller, the way we consume information changes drastically. Up until just a few years ago it was very common practice for companies to approach their website much like a wiki i.e. – a compendium of every possible tidbit of information a person could ever possibly need to understand the business. Now – the experience has changed to be a more visually driven experience that causes a user to develop an emotional tie to a business. One of the biggest website hurdles to overcome is that of a cluttered website. The information is great, and it’s there, but it’s not easy to take it all in.
When discussing the state of your website, have you ever thought to yourself:
my website is too busy
it’s too hard to find information
there’s just too much stuff
I don’t know what to click on
We know the information is important, and it has to be there. So how can you present it better? Here’s some ideas that we think will help you.
Refresh your Sitemap
I often compare websites to the broom closet in your garage – you usually only clean it out every few years. Websites are pretty similar: you build a fresh new website and then over the course of a few years it starts to get cluttered, redundant, and full of stuff you probably haven’t needed in a long time. It’s important to go through your site every-so-often to “trim the fat” and consolidate pages, delete old posts and keep your sitemap as barebones as possible. You have important information that you know your customers need to find, so make it easy for them!
Simplify your homepage
Gone are the days of long, over-informative homepages. These days you only have 3/10ths of a second before a user knows whether they want to stay or leave your website, so it’s vital that you have a homepage that succinctly states your mission and has clear calls to action (“DONATE”, “APPLY NOW”, “CONTACT US”). As I mentioned earlier, you want to create an experience that makes your users feel something. We here at USM Interactive LOVE using big visual cues to accomplish that goal. Check out what we did for Camp Kippewa – without leaving the homepage or even reading a line of text, you glean every bit of information you could possibly need through video and photographs.
- Read 20% slower vs. print
- Are task focused rather than looking for an immersive experience
- Scan the page rather than read every word
In short, don’t expect your content to work if you are overly verbose or are relying too much on copy vs. photos/video/design elements. Researchers have proven that readers scan content in an F-shaped pattern.
This image shoes heat maps tracking readers’ eye movements indicate where readers focus first; they focus mainly on the left side of the page, as well as on the first few sentences of each paragraph.
So what does this mean?
- Put your most important content at the top of the page.
- Use sub-headers throughout your text for improved scannability.
- Make the first two words of your headers the most important.
What do I do?!?
Your website should be like a big huge window of a storefront, not your broom closet. If you think your site isn’t representative of your business, or has just gotten too cluttered from years of use, then shoot us an email and we can talk to you about how you can start fresh.