Clean and simple website design has been fashionable for a while now. Simultaneously, one is expected to have enough content to satisfy search engines.
This begs the question: how do you say everything that you need to say while keeping the content easy to scan? Frankly, with the continued rise of mobile viewing, it’s a constant balancing act.
We’ve assembled five of the best design tricks & content tips to help you declutter your website – and still say everything you need to say.
5 Tips to Declutter Your Website Design
1. Clean Up Your Navigation
Your website navigation plays a large role in the overall user experience of the site. Overcrowding the navigation with tons of pages and elements can create an overwhelming experience and cause a visitor to go through more clicks than necessary to get to what they need.
Older websites often have tons of pages, buttons and links stuffed in the top section of the hero image. Today, users tend to scroll, so you no longer need to place everything in the first panel.
As a UX design best practice, try to limit your top navigation to a maximum of seven elements. This includes the top pages, your phone number, and any buttons.
Sadly, drop down menus are too busy and no longer fit in with modern website design; they’re difficult to navigate on smaller devices. A good alternative for large sites that need to keep certain drop down options is the mega menu. A mega menu is a type of expandable format in which several options are displayed in a nice, 2-column format. It is an excellent choice and creates a nice design for larger menus.
2. Focus on High Level Messaging
In the past, when most visitors were viewing sites on desktops, you could have pages filled with dense content that visitors would read through.
Today users spend only a few seconds on a site and tend to scan the content quickly as they scroll. For instance, Nielsen’s research found that approximately 79% of people scan web pages. When cleaning up your website content, focus on high level messaging and make it as easy to read and scan as possible.
High level messaging refers to the headlines, sub headlines, and bullet points on a page. Placing your most important messaging in concise and objective headlines and following this type of hierarchy will make it easier for visitors to quickly determine if your business and site offer solutions to their problems.
Your web designer can then use visual hierarchy to support the messaging. Visual hierarchy refers to the use of font size and style in order to visually convey the level of importance of the content.
This emphasis on high level messaging is helpful for the search engines. Optimizing the headlines, such as the H1, H2, H3s, etc., for your selected keywords is an important step in on-page optimization. It is also a best practice for ADA compliance on websites in providing a clear page structure for visitors utilizing assistive technology on the site.
3. Use an Open Design Style
While high level messaging is a good starting point, you’ll need to do more to achieve a modern, clean design. The latest design trends are focused on open layouts with lots of white space and less structured block panels.
During a website redesign, your designer should utilize the latest design trends and push your team to use negative space in creative ways. Accordions are a great way to organize lots of content in an easy-to-digest set up. An accordion is a tool where the content can be expanded or collapsed based on the visitor’s preference.
You’ll often see this tool on Frequently Asked Pages where the question is always visible. The answer is revealed only when a visitor selects the button or link to expand the content and view the answer. Accordions create a nice, clean design for a page, while the collapsed content in each item can still be indexed and viewed by search engines.
Hover over effects are another design tip for presenting content in a nice format for visitors. A common example of a hover over effect is where a visitor hovers their mouse over an image or box and additional text appears.
Lastly, you’ll want to consider the selected imagery and make sure all of the elements work well on desktop and mobile.
4. Utilize Your Blog & Resource Sections
When discussing ways to declutter a website, a lot of website owners may think they need to cut out tons of the existing content from their site. That’s not true and is actually not recommended. If you have a large amount of content on your current site, consider shifting some of it to a blog or resource section.
A blog is one of the best tools for organizing and archiving content on a site. It allows you to organize posts in chronological order and into different categories, making it easy for visitors to browse.
You can also utilize the blog functionality without labeling it as a ”blog.” It can be called Resources, Press Releases, or News, to name a few options. On a WordPress site, you can go one step further and determine the functionality of the individual posts by choosing the custom post type. The functionality varies from case studies to past newsletters and even to white papers.
Posting content regularly to a blog has a lot of advantages for marketing and SEO. The search engines tend to favor larger sites that regularly share new information and content.
A resource area can also build credibility on your site and present your team as an expert and educational resource for visitors.
5. Reorganize Your Content on Key Pages
There is always a balance in the website design world between user experience and search engine optimization. Sometimes a website becomes cluttered with tons of content in an effort to optimize a page for a keyword. However, you don’t have to sacrifice your rankings for a clean and modern design (nor vice versa).
If you need a certain number of words and keywords on a key page, such as a home page or service page, take a visitor-centric approach when deciding where to place the content. Since visitors scroll through a page, you can make the page longer with more sections.
At the top of the page, you can have sections with more negative space, high-quality design work and limited content. Then you can place the sections with longer text further down the page. This way you reach the word count, but you aren’t deterring visitors with too much dense text towards the top of the page.
When planning your SEO strategy, you may need to consider whether optimizing a key service page or product page for a keyword is the best fit. Work with your SEO and web team to determine the minimum word count and what visitors expect to see and learn on the page.
Whether you are evaluating the site for SEO results or user experience, you’ll always get the best results by considering the needs and goals of your web visitors.