4 Decluttering Tips To Promote A Better User Experience

Jeffrey Wagner
January 6, 2017
84 Views

Decluttering” is a popular term used to describe a thoughtful elimination of unneeded stuff in our homes. Decluttering doesn’t just apply to our physical possessions, though. Clutter is definitely a problem that can occur in web design, and eliminating it can go a long way toward improving your users’ experience. Here are four great ways to eliminate clutter and clean up your website design Hampshire.

1) Cut Your Copy Short

From the very earliest days of the internet, marketers (and other experts) have been studying how users actually take in the information presented to them. For a start, “reading” is not entirely an accurate term for how users consume written content online. Scanning is a better way to describe the process; unless you engage deeply with your visitor you can’t count on them taking the time to patiently read every word on your site. Keep your sites clean by cutting down on the number of words you’re using.

Unnecessary words should be deleted. Hunt down run-on-sentences and shorten them. Redundant phrases and sentences should be eliminated entirely. Try to make every paragraph consistent and focused on a single idea – this is very friendly to readers who are scanning. Lastly and most importantly, use the inverted pyramid structure on your longer content pieces. Load the crucial pieces of information into the top of your article and push less important details further down.

Examples – Brief Landing Pages

Days

Days is one of my favourite apps. It has a very simple mission: It counts down the time remaining before some particular event. Look at how little-written copy is used in each section of the app’s landing page. You’re looking at just one of these super-brief sections in the attached screenshot. The words look great and they read great, too.

Aiia

The landing page for this waterproof speaker is nothing short of spectacular. I love how clean the page is, and not even the weird scroll function can spoil the experience for me. The copy is limited exclusively to the words that are required to convey the page’s main idea with all extraneous clutter cut away.

2) Prune Back Decorative Visuals

In professional marketing, the urge to add one or two more visual elements to gussy up a design is always tempting. We want to make pretty designs to justify all the effort we’ve invested in them. It’s possible to spoil a page by visually overthinking it despite the very best of intentions. I prefer to keep my designs spare in a visual sense. I’ve never come across a decoration so important that cutting it hurt the experience of the end user.

Let’s take a close look at two websites – Born and VConcept. VConcept’s page is very content-light but it’s hard to parse. The decorations are actively impeding the viewer’s understanding. Multiple background elements and three styles of text come together to create a busy page where no one point stands out despite all of the different decorations being used to attract attention.

Born’s career page is text-heavy. Despite the previous point coming down in favour of brevity, all of this copy works because it’s presented here without any visual distractions. Just think how much worse this would look with even a simple one-pixel border around each job posting. It would get far harder to scan for the information the visitor needs.

3) Good Design Elements Should Appear Over And Over

Once you’ve made a good design choice, get the most out of it by applying it consistently. Multiple styles, fonts, and colours are thrown together look messy and unprofessional. Sticking with a few strong design elements promotes clean, easy-to-understand designs. The graphic designer’s profession is full of aphorisms promoting this approach, like “never use more than three fonts.” Individual elements deployed on multiple pages across your site should all be consistent. If you have five pages featuring a newsletter capture from and each one is styled differently, you’re going to confuse a lot of your visitors.

For an example of this point, let’s examine how The Business Depot treats colors. Their IT cloud services are aimed at expert enterprise-level customers; this may be why they’ve held on to some very iffy design choices. They’re using every shade of the rainbow, and that’s not a good thing. You’ll see all the primary colours on their homepage, and it’s natural to assume that the rest of the site will be colour-coded in some consistent way. That’s not the case! On the “about” page you’ll be bombarded by pastel colours. Switch to the “contact” page and it’s back to the land of bold primary colours. The design would be far stronger with some colour consistency.

Prismic is another example of a site that’s stuck in colour overload. Their blog posts are colour-coded, which can get confusing quickly. As shown in the attached screenshot, though, colour choices within a single blog post are kept monochromatic – in this case, blue. Note that in the detailed design choices consistency has been reinforced by deploying the exact same shade of blue in the logo, the CTA button, and the hero. This keeps things clean.

I’m a long-time fan of Lonely Planet, and I really admire their current site design. They reuse many design elements consistently to develop a strong sense of branding. The same template is deployed for each city page. This understated style is perfect for a content-heavy site where reader confusion needs to be minimized.

4) Aim For A Consistent User Goal

My final word on decluttering is to identify each page’s goal and then strip away the parts that are unnecessary. Approach the page as your users would in order to do this properly. Basic page-level user goals include signing up for a newsletter or learning a specific recipe. Each time you add a page to your site, take the time to identify its goal early on and don’t get sidetracked when you’re building the page out.

Design elements and pieces of content that don’t directly contribute to a page’s goal will end up hurting it. For instance, on a page designed to allow users to download a sample chapter of a book, a promotional blurb for a different book will make the sample offer less effective. In this situation, the download button should have absolute pride of place in your page design. If your page ends up being long, feel free to drop your CTA in multiple times. Most vitally, cut out everything that doesn’t directly encourage your user to download the sample.

The landing page being used by the travelling app Hitlist is worth examining here. Obviously, the goal of this page is to get a user to download the Hitlist app itself. There are multiple ways for the user to achieve this goal. There’s a direct link to the app store, and users can also get sent an SMS link by entering their phone number. Every link deployed here is a tool in service of the goal.

I really love the appearance of the site for Speedlip, a nonalcoholic beverage. It’s impressively focused, featuring four CTAs encouraging visitors to take just a few different paths. Two calls are for immediate purchase, while the other two direct visitors to more information. Multiple CTAs work well as long as they aren’t competing with each other.

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