Why Not Be Simple? When Web Design Embraces ‘Less is More’

Over the last few years of learning how to design websites I think I have fallen down the trap of having far too much content per page than was actually needed. At least that shows I have a lot to write! These last few months I have been designing two website; my own: http://dspickett.com/ and my Church’s website. Both are very different projects with different requirements and a different audience.

One thing has really stood out to me though, I love simple websites. After doing a lot of research (countless hours of browsing “best design portfolio” lists) I came to two different conclusions about what seems to work for me.

1. When I visit site I would really like to be able to see something that sums up what the site is about. I’ve taken a liking for big fonts and bold text that says exactly what the site is about. Maybe not too big but enough that I can visit and go – o yes – I know what this site is about.

2. Simple but effective. It annoys me when I find a site that takes me a long time to find what I actually want to find out – especially if it’s something like Directions or About information. I like knowing that someone is one or two clicks away from sending me a message or even no clicks away from listening to my music.

With these in mind I’ve tried to design my own site to be simple, easy to use and yet effective. I have a contact form, a music player and lots of links but I’ve designed the site with only a small colour pallet and 2 fonts (if you count the logo and Blog button). That  doesn’t mean it’s perfect at all though. Maybe you’ve got some comments?

Aside from my site, why does being really simple matter? I think it’s a question of what you want your website to achieve. If it’s a magazine site featuring articles (like Design Juices) then having 4 pages with size 72 links might not be the best solution… but when it’s your portfolio or business then maybe having just a few pages obviously labelled is the best way forward. In today’s climate having a site where clients can quickly and easily access your contact details and a brief Bio and Portfolio is a must.

I think http://www.topleftdesign.com/index.htm is a pretty good example. It’s got obvious links and there’s enough content but not too much. The site looks “nice” yet has everything you want within just a few clicks. Simple.

A Google search revealed lots of showcasing sites for minimal designs and I stumbled across http://www.patrickmonkel.nl/index.php again! It’s a really great Simple site with a great feel. It’s, again, easy to navigate and the stunning art work just adds to the site. Both sites get across what I’m trying to say very well both are simple yet very effective. You can spend more time getting to know the designer’s Bio if you’re not working out how to get to it and the colour scheme doesn’t hurt your eyes!

I started off thinking the more content the better and I think the age old rule of quality over quantity can sometimes be forgotten when creating sites. Not to say a lot of content is bad, it just needs to be of a good quality. It will be interesting to see how the web shapes up in future – as we get more devices and more ways of filtering content maybe content will grow whilst site design becomes simpler. Twitter has 6 main navigation Pages in it’s top menu – less than many other sites that have no where near as much raw content.

Good luck with designing your own sites – I’d love to see what simple designs you come up with!

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