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Today, I thought I’d talk about the importance of simplicity when designing your site.

Remember back when the internet was this cool new thing and websites were filled to the brim with every flashing neon thing possible? It was like being in the middle of Time Square or the Las Vegas strip in the comfort of home. There were banners and scrolling things and music, and literally flashing ‘buy now’ buttons. It was awful! As the internet has evolved, so have websites, thank God! Because it all boils down to how we navigate and what works now.

So what does work now? Well there’s a ton that goes into effective web design; way more than I can fit in one of these videos. So to keep things as concise as possible for you, let’s focus on the biggest key element….simplicity. We are bombarded with information and sales pitches and content ALL. THE. TIME. If you notice, the more complex the internet and our technological lives have gotten, the more simplistic all the components of those things have gotten. So to go with that, you need to design for a minimum amount of conscious and cognitive effort. What do I mean by that?

Our brains are designed to perform any task with the least amount of effort exerted as possible. The harder we have to think about something, the longer we have to look at something to understand it, the more calories our brain is using, and the more overwhelmed it can get. So we tend to avoid that stuff, right? I mean, again, for those of you old enough to remember, think back to those original websites from back in the day. Completely overwhelming and confusing would pretty well describe most of them. There was just too much going on.

So why in the world do we still see this on so many sites now? I mean, hopefully you don’t have a ton of congested content on a page with flashing buttons and scrolling this and that all over the place, but still I see sites that are overwhelming in their own right. There’s too much unnecessary text. Too many service options and convoluted descriptions. Or it’s too confusing to navigate and know where to go from one point to the next.

So how do you fix that? You develop a system that you want people to work through. This means figuring out your navigation to meet the goal of your website and designing your site around that. So when a person lands on your homepage, do they know where to go next? They should! You should state simply what you do, how it can help them, and how they can get it. Then have clear calls-to-action to direct their next steps, whether that’s to read more about your services, learn more about your type of massage, read your blog to see if you’re the type of therapist for them, or simply to book an appointment.

So take some time and think about the big goal for your website and the small goals for each section of that website. Then you start coming up with the content and then designing. Don’t start with the pretty stuff first. The pretty stuff is there to convey the overall theme and purpose of your site, not be the content. A pretty site with crappy navigation and no purpose is still a crappy website. I’d rather see an ugly site with easy, user-friendly navigation and content. Hopefully you’ll work toward having the pretty stuff AND the great content AND the user-friendly navigation, but one step at a time, right?

Now, keeping a simple website does not mean you can’t offer more than one thing, or that if you have a complexly structured business that you must have a complex website. That’s not true. Just take a look at Amazon or Walmart. They are immensely complex businesses and yet their websites are fairly easy to navigate. Even if you offer a variety of things, like massage and yoga and retail and classes…you can still make your site simple. Each of those has a specific section and can be simplified on your homepage to highlight and show all that you do without looking like a crazy mess. It can take some serious brainstorming and fine tuning, but it’s perfectly possible.

So take what you will from today’s video, but I hope this gives you a little kick in the pants to take a look at your website and see where you can improve. Is it too complex for your visitors? How can you simplify it to better suit their needs?

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