Look at the picture above. It’s a pretty accurate representation of how I feel when I visit some websites.
There’s almost always too much going on in the sidebar (ads, widget overload, etc.) and/or there’s too many tabs in the navigation. Sometimes, I can’t even find a subscription box to subscribe via email.
Less Is More: where do you want people to go?
When people come to your site, what is it that you want them to do next? Where do you want them to go? What do you want them to do?
Here for example, I want people to subscribe first and foremost. So you have options to subscribe via email and via RSS placed prominently on the upper right-hand side. I monetize the site in two ways:
- Affiliate sales for StudioPress,
- Subscriptions to Real Estate Blog Topics.
Beyond that, I want to give people easy access to the rest of the content on my site. I use WordPress Popular Posts plugin to share the top posts visited on the site.
As for my navigation, I started to feel it was a little cluttered so I created a secondary navigation with landing pages to some of my best content on Blogging and Social Media since that’s the kind of content people come here to read. Those pages have Call To Actions to subscribe as well. For the most part, I’ve found that traffic is up on those pages and that they’re converting rather well. Mission accomplished.
What About You?
I think you need to start by asking yourself: what is it that I want people to do? Then, you need to structure your content in such a way that it guides them towards those areas.
If you look at your site right now, is it clear what action you want visitors to take? What can you change to make it more explicit?
Hey Ricardo! Another thing worth noting, from a design perspective, is that we’re accustomed to digesting web content left to right, as if reading a book. While content is the main reason for showing up, I think that web design can provide a subtle nudge in the right direction.
@joebertino Very good point amigo! I’ve seen some folks make good use of heat-maps to determine the click points on a site to make changes accordingly. I’m a fan of services like Crazy Egg that do this for you.
@RicardoBueno Who doesn’t love a good heat map? Thanks for the Crazy Egg reco, I’ll make sure to check them out.
@joebertino Well I use Visistat.com and they have some pretty cool overlays and so does Google Analytics. I check those to see the stats on click-thru rates for pages. For example, I know that 14.7% of my traffic clicks on my About page after landing somewhere on the site. Good to know, heh. But Crazy Egg does a full on page heatmap which is pretty darn cool (and affordable).
@RicardoBueno Yeah, that’s great information to know about your site. I’m a sucker for heat maps, so I’ll definitely check it out.
Darren Sproat says
This is a great post… a reminder to all of us operating our websites and putting way too much information in front of readers… I want visitors to focus on the content and if that content entices them to stick around and read more, great! Thanks for the reminder, I think I will take some time this weekend to clean things up… 😉
You are correct with your post right here that you want your readers to have a clear focus on what they should be focusing on. Giving them to many options is going to confuse them and then their just going to end up leaving.
@Justicewordlaw Yep, agreed. When I think about most of the sites I visit, I find that one of the primary reasons I navigate away is the information is too cluttered and I can’t find what I’m looking for.
I guess I’m just one of those “less is more” kinda guys.
@Darren Sproat Hiya Darren! Unfortunately for me, it seems like it’s a constant work in progress. Even I fall victim to the “oh, I need to add this, and that” mentality. But once a week (at least) I’ll take a look and try and remove things that are just not necessary.
I like sites that just offer a clear focus. I visit a couple of sites that just have to many things going on. Just offer me high quality information to help me increase my knowledge. @RicardoBueno
@Justicewordlaw You know what I think it is, it’s somewhat of a desperation to monetize. Let me load this site with ads to increase the likelihood of someone clicking on them. However in that case, the more you do it, the less it works. Not the other way around.
Speaking of which even I feel like I need to tone it down around here…
@RicardoBueno Yeah when I started out blogging monetization was some thing that every one talked about and rushed a lot. You had no comments but were already using Google adsense to generate income with no community. I know I just did my blog over and probably won’t be placing any ads up and focusing primarily on content and engaging. I will leave the income sources to other avenues.