It is no secret that clean and contemporary sites with a minimalist feel appeal to a much larger range of end-users. The clean look puts users at ease and provides a classic look and feel they can relate to. The lack of clutter also gives your users the ability to find what they need, get the information or product they came for and move on with their busy lives.
A common question I get is how do I make my website look clean. A very important question with a number of solutions. Here are a few simple concepts to get you the clean, minimal site you desire.
‘Whitespace’ is Critical to Clean Web Design
‘Whitespace’ is the empty space around the photos and text that make up your website. I hesitate to say the bulk of your website, because the ‘whitespace’ should be the bulk of the site. While a solid white background has a calming effect and provides a classic base, ‘whitespace’ doesn’t necessarily have to be white. If you prefer a black or other solid, neutral color it often accomplishes the same effect. Take care when using dark or bright colors as a background as they can often draw a user’s attention from your content and the task at hand.
Think of ‘whitespace’ as giving your content room to breathe. Wide margins, gutters, and empty blocks between text and images often serve this purpose.
Be Sparse with Your Content
While many clients rarely can put together a few sentences about their business, some will provide you with pages and pages of copy that they think is critical to their website. This is rarely a good thing. When someone visits your website, you want them to learn just enough about your business to pick up the phone and contact you or to get the info they need to make a purchase right away. You don’t want to give them information overload. It has been proven that too much information will turn customers off quickly as they get bored or realize that this isn’t worth their time.
Figure out what you need to say, write it down and then start deleting. I often tell clients to write down everything they want to say, then remove 50% of it. Keep the best stuff. Concentrated content will achieve a much better result than paragraphs of boring fluff.
Plan Your Site Out and Plan it Out Again
I cannot emphasize the importance of a well planned site map. Just like with your content, you need to understand that the things that are important to you, the business owner, are not necessarily important to your customers. Think of the things that a customer MUST know. Think of the information that they need to know to make a well informed decision to contact you or make a purchase.
Photo galleries are a good example of one of those things that everyone wants on their website but not everyone needs. If you are a restaurant, sure photos of your restaurant and food are critical to your website, but an accounting firm does not need photos of their office and personnel, your customers just don’t care.
For many businesses you can combine information into a single page instead of having a dozen pages with very little quality content. An About Us page is a great place to put the basic info about your company, staff bios (if necessary), and testimonials. Why waste your end-user’s time by making them look at three different pages when all of that can be condensed into one well built page?
Utilize a Blog to Avoid Clutter
If you have new information or ideas that you like to add to your website on a regular basis, use a blog. If you add new information to your existing pages regularly, your pages are going to grow to unwieldy beasts and so much for that minimal look you were trying to achieve. Blogs are the perfect way to de-clutter your site by giving you a forum to add new information without destroying the pages you so carefully created from the beginning. Without fear of bogging down the rest of your site, you can go into great detail and depth on all the things you find so interesting about your business that your clients can’t live without.
Be Social and Responsive
Like a blog, your social media outlets give you another forum for information that you find important to disseminate. Get the information out there and share it with the world, but be sure to link it back to your website for the desired effect.
It is also critical that you respond to social media contacts and messages as quickly as possible. Set up notifications on your smart phone to let you know when you get a message from a customer via Facebook. This will improve your social response time and it will prove to your customers that they matter.