How many times have you been on your way out the door to work and you can’t find something you need for the day? Or when you’re in a rush and start digging through a cluttered basement or bedroom to find something in order to not be late?
The same thing happens to busy, overwhelmed internet users when they encounter website clutter.
What is website clutter?Website clutter can be defined as anything that distracts your reader from finding the information or product they were looking for. Unnecessary images, paragraphs of text, menus, links or ads can all compete with your body copy or call to action for your reader’s attention.
Much like trying to find something in a cluttered basement, website clutter wastes your reader’s time and makes it more difficult for them to find the information that got them to your website in the first place.
A cluttered web site is too busy and doesn’t have enough white space. It can confuse your reader and cause them to abandon reading your website entirely.
How do you know if your website is cluttered?
Website Criteria offers a free clutter test for your website. According to them, a web page is too cluttered if:
- Users regularly ignore the most important things on the page
- Users regularly ignore instructions on the screen
- Users do not click on important features or links
- Users leave the page more quickly than other pages
- User feedback is negative and they describe it as frustrating, confusing, or too busy
- The page has more clutter than equivalent web pages of your successful competitors
Another simple test for gauging the user experience of your website is to contact 10 of your family members, friends, or professional contacts and ask them for their immediate thoughts when they first arrive at your website. If you can choose people that have never seen your website before or don’t know anything about your industry at all (I’m looking at you, Grandma!), even better.
If you have some extra change to throw around, another option could be EyeQuant. Developed by a team of German neuroscientists and used by Google, EyeQuant uses artificial intelligence to predict what users will see and miss in your web design, providing a “visual clarity score” that is instant, objective and has been proven to increase conversions. Compared to physical eye tracking, EyeQuant is 90% effective.
Mobile responsive design: the ‘anti-clutter’When a website is responsive, the content automatically adapts based on the size of the screen it’s presented on. So regardless of the device you use to view a web page—widescreen desktop monitor, laptop, tablet, mobile phone—the layout will conform to look its best at whatever dimensions.
A website displayed on a mobile phone or tablet will always be a simpler version of its desktop counterpart. Flashy graphics, animations and intrusive ads are eliminated in favor of a design that prioritizes simplicity and focuses on article headlines, body copy, and easy-to- find links.
Why can’t the same concept be applied to the desktop user experience?
Graphically-rich designs rife with animations, textures, and high-resolution photos just don’t cut it nowadays in a world where a website’s load time, image rendering speed, and ability to provide information quickly matter more than ever.
People want to browse web content quickly and easily, with more and more users consuming websites and news on their mobile devices. Considering millions of blog posts and emails are written every day, competing for your reader’s attention—an average span of just five seconds–has never been more important. You’ve got a mere five seconds to keep your reader, and a cluttered website shouldn’t be the reason that they leave yours and move on to the next one.
Minimalism is in – make sure your website is easy on the eyes.
As unfortunate as it sounds, we are all becoming immune to online advertising. Loud, boisterous ads get dismissed before we have even processed them, as web users are getting hit with too many ads every day. If anything, they’re just a nuisance, and advertising is quite possibly the most significant source of visual website clutter that there is.
Ads are, of course, a necessity for a lot of websites in order to monetize their efforts and will never go away. Instead of gaudy, intrusive options, though, opt for limited, relevant, and modest ones instead.
In a survey conducted by Burst Media, they found that there is a low tolerance for more than two ads per web page. One quarter of respondents (27.3%) said they will tolerate only a single ad per web page and another quarter (25.3%) said they’d tolerate just two ads per web page. The result? 30% of respondents saying that they’d immediately leave a website if they perceived it to be cluttered.
Ads can even have a negative effect on how search engines view you as well. While there is no clear-cut formula for an ad-to- content ratio that is considered too high, having so many ads that they impede the user finding the information they want or placing only ads and no content above the fold are ways to sabotage your ranking in search results.
A clean, organized website does wonders for your reader and provides them with something that’s easy to digest. Browse through all of your web pages and get rid of outdated or obsolete information. Decide what components must remain on your web pages and what elements aren’t as essential.
If you make your reader happy, they’ll want to continue on your website and want to learn more.