When we say your website should get naked like Miley Cyrus, we are not talking about incorporating pictures of you or your staff sitting on a wrecking ball in the buff.
No no no no no. Let’s stop right there.
What we’re talking about is stripping your site of anything other than what’s necessary for your two principal goals of having a website, namely: 1) attracting traffic and 2) generating leads. And in effective website design, less is often more.
Create Concise Copy and Eliminate Happy Text
You know that introductory text a lot of firms put on their home page? No one reads it. Steve Krug, author of Don’t Make Me Think, one of the leading books on website usability, calls this “Happy Text” and suggests that it “must die.
Happy Text does more than sit innocently, getting ignored like a wallflower at a high school dance. It introduces noise to a webpage and muddles the more important message, which should be around what the visitor should do now that they’re at your site.
Your home page copy should be minimal and accomplish the following: 1) express the value proposition of your service in a clear, non-cutesy way and 2) direct the visitor to do something with an obvious call to action. Most likely you’ll want to have them fill out a form or download a piece of content in exchange for their contact information.
Keep in mind we’re talking about the home page. For your interior pages, you need approximately 250 words or more per page for SEO purposes. But even then your writing should be as direct and concise as possible. Remember the following quote:
Every sentence, every phrase, every word has to fight for its life.
Crawford Kilian, Writing for the Web
Make it Clear What the User Should Do
Take a look at your website, not from your perspective but from a visitor’s perspective. Is it clear what the person should do when they get there? Because if it’s not as clean and clear as a batch from Walt and Jesse, they’re going to go back to Google and look at the next search result.
People are often half-conscious when they surf the web. You need to appeal to the reptilian part of their brains and get your message to punch through.
The best way to do this is to have a call to action above the fold, typically on the right hand side where a visitor is conditioned to see one. A big, clickable, button should include some language that appeals to the natural human tendency to want to acquire things. Use words like “get” or “free”.
Eliminate Unnecessary Graphical Elements
Images on websites are undeniably good. But too many of them create a noisy site. The more you can think of your site like a clean, Japanese-style Feng Shui palace, the better.
In an extreme case, when users arrive at a site with a fusillade of imagery and a cacophonous color scheme, they back up and go to the next search result. In more subtle cases, the use of decorative elements like chrome borders or separators between sections can slow load times and clutter up otherwise clean designs.
When there’s too much happening on a page, either from a text or image perspective, the visitor gets lost. They need to be directed to the right place. Less is more.
The other thing you should avoid is having any keywords in images instead of in text. Professional service firms will often incorporate snippet about their service in their logo image. This is a no-no. If you want to be found in Google, move your text out of images and into plain, searchable text.
Nakedness = Clarity in Website Design
The more dressed up your site is, the harder it will be for visitors to your website to determine what to do. Strip it down, get your site naked like Miley Cyrus, and direct people to the right place with less stuff rather than more.