In an age where technology is developing faster than most people can keep up with it, there is a tendency to incorporate the newest and most advanced features in websites. At the same time however, a little restraint should be encouraged in order to prevent websites from becoming cluttered messes. The urge to use every bell and whistle possible in web development may seem enticing, but the best websites are those that are able to use simplicity to their advantage.
One of the most common areas where cluttered web design can run amok is in the menus. Having a dozen items in a menu is not only unattractive to look at, but also overwhelming. This is even more prevalent when there are three or four sub menus for every item, which can be extremely frustrating to utilize properly when using a mouse and keyboard. Menus should help to guide a user to different parts of a website, not scare them off it.
At the same time, websites should not guide users by overloading them with information. Everything from including icons to every social media account (no, not everyone is interested in a business’ Pinterest account), to links to blogs that have little to do with the website can overwhelm users. At its foundation, every page of a website should have one to two areas of focus that they want users to explore further. Including paragraph after paragraph of text may seem like a good idea in order to better communicate what a website is about, but the reality is that most users won’t even bother reading them.
The same policy applies to media like images and videos. Unless a website specializes in photography, there is no reason to have fifteen pictures on a page when three will do. Videos can be effective when the users choose to view them, but auto playing in the corner of a page is justification for immediately leaving the site.
It may seem like some of the tips above walk a fine line between simplicity and minimalism, but the reality is that the old saying of less is more is very relevant to web design. Assuming that every visitor to a website only has a basic understanding of how to navigate a website is a good way to ensure that the design choices are user friendly. Not overwhelming users with information is a good thing, and can actually encourage them to want to learn more and explore the rest of the website.