You might have read about Occam's Razor before. Or you may have heard it in some movie or a TV show. It's an oft-used term in many TV shows where the protagonist is looking for some complicated explanation, but in fact, the reason is quite simple and was present there the whole time.
Occam's Razor is a philosophy which states if there are multiple explanations for an individual event, then the simpler explanation is usually the best explanation.
So how does it apply to web designing or websites in general?
When it comes to a website, we have an obsession that the site should be very good looking. It should be pretty. But we fail to understand that the website should be such that people should be able to take action on it.
Like completing a purchase or downloading a case study or sending an inquiry. We don't just want them to applaud the beauty of the website and be on their way.
We want them to stick on our website because we provide them useful content and not the because of the beauty of the site.
Problems with complex websites
Websites that have a good looking but complex layouts fail to convert on multiple counts.
Difficult to navigate
Complex layouts are bad for navigation. Visitors find it difficult to find out the stuff they need. When I say navigation, I don't mean only the menus but overall ability of the website to present the information that is easy to find.
Let's say you want visitors to download your case studies, then you should show them prominently on your website, instead of hiding them behind some unnecessary graphics element.
And however the good website looks, if visitors are not able to find the required information they need quickly then the whole purpose of the site is lost.
Slow to load
With complex layout comes heavy themes and plugins. And they slow down the website significantly. That is again something that you should avoid.
Fast websites are good for search engine optimisation (SEO) too.
Complex websites don't mean only sites with complex layouts
Complexity is also in how you write the copy of your web pages. Goofy, over the top and unclear copy (copy includes headlines, subheadlines and other textual matter) doesn't communicate your message effectively.
It adds to the confusion of the website visitor.
I once visited a website that had a headline like 'Delivering value through innovation'. Now this line may work as the subheadline somewhere. But it doesn't work as a headline.
Because it doesn't tell me what the website is all about. What products or services am I selling? What are my USPs?
You should write in a way that your target audience will understand you
Make sure you are writing the copy that will appeal the target audience and entice them to take action and not reach them out to their dictionaries.
Using out of place images and photographs
Just because a picture is super beautiful, you should not use it. You have to ask yourself, does this photograph or image compliments my website. Does tell enough about the products or services I am talking about.
If it doesn't, then you should avoid using it at all costs.
The photographs and images on the website should complement the text you have on the website. Otherwise, there is not much use of using the photos.
Prioritising the elements on your website will help you keep track of what's important and what's not.
For example, the message that you are communicating through your website. Now that should be more important how an image should react to when you hover the cursor over it.
The effects when you hover over an image are good to look at but ask yourself do they add any value to the visitors. So make a list of what's important.
Prioritise them and then start looking at your website from a different angle altogether.
I have made these mistakes in the past. I wanted my websites to have a complex layout, have outstanding looking images on them, have a gorgeous font.
While I don't suggest that you should develop an ugly website but you should not focus on developing only a good looking site.
People will pat you on the back for beautiful design, but apart from boosting your ego, it is not going to help you much.
Simple is better.
Remember you are developing a website not to satisfy your creative mind, but you are doing it because you want to generate leads, you want people to read and respond to what is there on your website.
The functionality of the website should always win against the beauty of the website.
So keep that objective in mind and remember Occam's Razor.