If you look around you on the Internet, you'll think the average visitor to a website was a ten-eyed monster. Because almost all the websites or blogs you visit, have all this clutter.
Clutter that forces your eyes to go bouncity-bounce before it can even work out where to go–or what to do. And that's only half the problem. There are probably half a dozen calls-to-action as well. Sign up, call me, read the articles, blah, blah, blah!
So what's the average website visitor to do?
Luckily our brains have to deal with this clutter every single day. So the brain learns to be selective. It learns to focus on some stuff and ignore the rest.
Oi, get that?
The customers are ignoring your clutter. So if they're ignoring it, why put it in, in the first place?
Cut the clutter.
Print out your page, and get a customer to cancel what's not important.
They'll do it. And they'll have a ball going choppity-chop, cancel, cancel, cancel.
Which just proves one thing.
Your customer was never ten-eyed in the first place.
Gabor Wolf says
This picture is pure genius – I was laughing out loud. You can write pages describing this phenomenon – or you can draw a guy with ten eyes.
How can you draw an itchy mouse-clicking finger?
Sean D'Souza says
I could try, you know 😉
Tomm Sivertsen says
I’m amazed people don’t realize this. You know, I try to think along the lines of “gotta put a bunch of things there” when I design a website but my mind just goes, “heck, it doesn’t make sense. how am I gonna prioritize this? they want all their stuff to be important…” I go nuts when I got no clue as to where to go, what to click. I usually know what I’m looking for but that doesn’t mean that a bunch of access points are going to get me there. It really ticks me off when I had to google to what I’m looking for on a site rather than finding it on the actual site. I prefer a few links, less is like more. I’m glad you touched this point.
Dennis Young says
You are so right in saying, Blogs are hard to navigate through. Since this is the first posted discussion…I hope this will be true for your blog.
Marketing Actuary says
Editing a printout is an interesting idea for identifying the clutter.
Advertising often adds clutter too.
The only thing that could make this concept easier to understand would be to show a before and after picture of a cluttered website. The cartoon is dead on!
Sean D'Souza says
I’m sure that could be done. But every website is different. And that’s why the task becomes so difficult. In the design world, it’s done by putting your hand over a certain section, and seeing whether you need that section or not. The same thing can be done for a website.
But what’s kinda different with a website, is that it’s possible to have so much in first place. A business card, brochure, etc. have limited space. And definitely limited height. A website has no such compulsions.
And that’s when things get tougher.
Which is why it’s easier for the customer to decide. Ironical as it may sound, we’ve found the best website layouts are decided by customers when they look at the layout on paper–and cross out what’s not important.
Bob McClain says
I have the misfortune of being a copywriter who specializes in web site copy. Your post is dead right. All the distractions on a page simply lead to the Zeigarnik Effect: The state of mental tension and unbalance caused by uncompleted tasks.
The reason I say unfortunate is because many of the web site designers I work with either don’t get what I’m saying when I tell them this or they just shrug their shoulders and say, “but it’s what the customer wants.”
And I run into the same thing when I try to explain to clients how web site copy should be written as opposed to writing for paper (or as they often say, “I know how to write. What do I need a copywriter for?”)
Anyone have any suggestions on how to overcome these objections?
Sean D'Souza says
You have two audiences.
1) Web Designers.
And of course you can’t change their minds. So what do you do? How do you change minds? The problem lies in the fact that you’re selling a concept. And they’re not buying.
You almost never tell a person they’re making a mistake. Because even if they don’t take it personally, they do take it personally.
Now if you do get to know that person very, very well, you may get away with it, but still…people are hard to change.
But let’s say I wanted to show you that websites were becoming very popular–and you need to have a website.
And that not having a website is a mistake.
How do I tell you?
There are many ways to tell you, but the best way is to show you proof.
Proof can be shown in several ways:
1) Proof that you’ve created (in the form of information)
2) Proof that someone else has created (in the form of information)
3) Instant demonstration (e.g Corning glass, Headline report, Article Writing Course)
I’ll be back with more 🙂
Scott Gallagher says
Thanks Sean. This is so true, and not even on websites. You can see this in old school, new school, offline, online, direct, indirect marketing. More so, you find this ‘complex messaging’ in sales.
Whether your focus is marketing or sales, KISS. Stick to the objective at hand and don’t canabolize your objective with clutter.
Thank you for making a very clear, concise post. One main reason why I spend my money on you (not because I feel sorry for you!!)
Sean D'Souza says
I would be quite upset if you were buying stuff because of pity 🙂
Thank you for this… I’ve always been a fan of uncluttered sites, but at the same time I’m always a bit uneasy when ‘the rest of the world’ goes the other route.
This confirms to me that clean looks are the way to go.