Keep it simple, stupid!
We all want to make things easy for our customers. Easy to buy, easy to understand, easy to share...
But very often what I see is that the need to make sure every product, department, opportunity and every consumer's social habits are accommodated for means that we're actually making life impossible for precisely the people we're trying to help... and doing ourselves a huge-disservice into the bargain.
Confidence sells... and nothing says confidence like a website and business that has a great clarity of purpose.
Conversely nothing confuses, frustrates and drives away customers like a disorganised, confused and unclear proposition.
If you want your website to be a success you need to cut the crap. Go back to basics, prioritise everything and keep the whole thing super, super simple.
What should I prioritise?
There are a couple of "bullet lists" relating to your business and website that you, your team and your designers should have committed to memory. These are your priority lists and should cover the following:
- Website Goals
What 2-3 activities should every consumer or visitor undertake. No more than three. Ideally no more than two. Your third is the catch-all.
- Key Pages
Again, no more than three. The rest are pretty insignificant. Now, I'm not suggesting you build a three page website - so a "product" page is probably on this list and you may have thousands of instances of that page but they will all conform to one format. You'll probably include your homepage on this list too so you've only really one more at most to consider. Choose wisely!
- Page Goals
Finally for each "Key Page" you should know your two or three goals for that page and much like your website goals if you're really focusing on three goals you're probably not focusing enough.
What does this look like?
Take a site like this blog.
I have two website goals; for you to sign up to my weekly bulletin or for you to share the article with your friends.
I really only have one important page - this one - and my page goals are basically the same as my site goals. It is a simple blog after all.
The point though is that your huge e-commerce site or even your big corporate Leviathan shouldn't be any different.
What does this not look like?
The website I saw that prompted this article was an e-commerce site. Ostensibly well designed but by the time I got to the product pages I was being offered 6 or more social networks to share the product, the option to read other people's reviews, write my own, vote for and star-rate the product... and so on. The "Buy Now" button was completely buried as was the price.
How should I proceed?
In the next week take a little time out and just try those three steps above to get you started. What are the 2x goals that a visitor want's to accomplish on my site? What 2x pages do they need to visit. What 2 things, at most, will then need to do when they're there.
Once you've done the excercise be brave... and cut out all the crap.
Have I missed a step? Please don't be shy - let me know either on Twitter or in the comments below: