Clutter is confusing, whether it is on a desk, in a room or on a web page. Your eyes simply do not have a central focus from which to view the room and that confusion can be very unattractive on a web page (and in real life too…ahem!).
It is therefore the ambition of every web developer to create a website that is clutter-free in order to clearly communicate the content to the website viewer. The temptation is always there to add a little more here and there, both from the designer and the client but this must be resisted in order to produce an effective, attractive website. So how can you do this effectively?
Define the purpose
What is the essence of creating this site? Get this in a clear statement from the client. Make sure it is the umbrella statement i.e. the overall purpose and not the functions that the client would want. That will be addressed later. This statement will be reference point for every decision made regarding design and content going forward.
The devil is in the details
The fewer things you have on your web page, the more visible the mistakes are. You need to be able to develop and organize the various elements on your web pages in such a way as to be fluid and clear in their communication. Some of the things to consider here include:
• Hierarchy – arrange the size and weight of the elements on your page in such a way as to lead the user through the page towards the call to action.
• Unity – do your page elements fit with each other? There should not be items that don’t appear to fit on your page.
• Symmetry – Images should be aligned to avoid the cluttered look. Use a grid to help you here.
• Whitespace – Each element needs space to be visible so do not fill up every whitespace available with content no matter how logical it seems. Fight the clutter!
Less is more
Go through your elements on each page and remove the ones that are unnecessary (no matter how cute or cool they are). Remember the purpose of the website and ensure that each element is absolutely in sync with the purpose. You can get a fresh pair of eyes by way of a test group. Observe which elements are largely unused and decide whether they should be relocated to another page or simply removed altogether.
1. Usability over design
A great website is one that works well rather than one that simply looks great. Aim to make the website easy to use with all the functions and elements clearly visible and well placed on the web pages. Not that you cannot be creative, but you must not drop the ball on the basics of placement and functionality of the elements on your web page.
It is important to mention that simplicity does not mean that you must create something boring. By all means bring out all your creativity to the table but make sure to arrange every element in a way that the message of the website is enhanced rather than lost.