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Simplicity: A Great Place To Start

If you are looking to redesign your site or start a new web site spend some time researching the Internet’s old guard for ideas.  Too many web site creators and developers have this burning need to complicate the web process, “We’re going to do it better!”  The battle cry should be “We’re going to make it easier!” Remember that people like cool, but crave simplicity.  The two simplest yet most popular web sites are Yahoo and Google. You can learn a lot by studying these two giants.

Straightforward HTML text
Both Yahoo and Google are primary HTML text based.  They include some pictures, but they let the content lead the way.  I’ve heard many people criticize Yahoo for being too simplistic in design.  Yahoo’s approach to design might be simplistic, but it is also the most popular web site in the world.  Is your site serving up high quality HTML content?

They Spend Millions on Testing
Yahoo and Google spend millions on testing their sites before releasing it to the public. Recently when Yahoo redesigned its home page it offered users a sneak peak. They always “teased” you with the new design and encouraged feedback.  That feedback was used to further improve their site before launch. Companies should take example of their approach. Don’t rush to launch your web site just to meet an arbitrary internal deadline.  Most users don’t know a new site is going online until it gets launched.  At the same time realize there are no perfect web sites.  Don't get bogged down in analysis-paralysis. 

The Simple Search
You don’t need to look any further than Google’s search page.  To search you enter a term and click search or refine your search with one of the simple category selections. There is no distracting adverting and they deliver nothing but high quality results.  Is the interactive process on your web site simple and easy to use?

Always Something New
Yahoo is an example of high quality content generation.  Almost every time you visit their home page you are presented with something new.  They use multiple sources to bring information to the user. You might not be able to keep up with Yahoo’s frequency of updates, but you can emulate the process.  Ask yourself, how often do we update our site?  New information keeps users coming back.

Page Layout
When it comes to type layout and information architecture Yahoo does a great job.  Look at any of their news stories as an example, clean and simple.  They capture your attention with a headline and then present the article.  At the end of the article you can vote on recommending the story to others or select for a bevy of other related stories. Yes there is advertising.  But advertising is the primary revenue channel for both Yahoo and Google. They at least do it somewhat tastefully.

The old cliché goes “Imitation is the Greatest Form of Flattery.” Why spend time, energy, and effort researching what’s already been researched?  Study examples from the most popular web sites online. There is a reason why they’re the most popular.

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