Against Cluttered Websites

April 13, 2012

I was talking to somebody the other day about the type of website they were looking to get for their business. We looked at a few websites that he was familiar with, talked about the features and styles that we liked and didn’t like. Then we happened upon the site that a law firm was using. At least I think it was for a law firm. There was so much disjointed information on the page that I couldn’t really find the main point of the website.

There is a danger, especially among people who are creating their first website (or hiring somebody to create their first website) to put as much information as possible on the thing. It’s sort of a MySpace mentality, where you find yourself with unexpected creative freedom so you try to cobble together every pretty thing you’ve ever seen on the web. Flashy logos, tons of “useful” widgets, everywhere you look there’s something. This represents me, so I want as much stuff as possible. Except it doesn’t make you look good, and it doesn’t make your website more effective.

It’s like if you finally bought your first expensive car and decided to get every option redone in 24 karat gold. Sure, you have the freedom to get the tackiest car available (looking at you, Justin Bieber), but is that really what you want to do?

Instead, shouldn’t you be considering what options will best help you and your business? Sure, there are benefits to having an informative website — it attracts hits from search engines, it makes you appear well-informed — but is it really selling your services to customers?

Which is to say nothing of the aesthetics of a good looking website. If you’re not visually oriented, trust me when I tell you that there is actually a science to this. The are formal elements to design, and proven ways that your eyes move over a well-designed object. You’re simply not conveying the right information when you clutter your website with extraneous blogrolls and comment lists.

Which is to say nothing of how a messy website could affect your reputation. Remember the old saying, a cluttered desk is a reflection of a cluttered mind? What does a cluttered website say about you and your professionalism?