Fear of Apples - Reducing Complexity

After reading Seth Godin's simple article on reducing complexity, entitled Fear of Apples, I felt compelled to write  short piece about steps one could take to make users' browsing experience that much nicer.

Basically, by reducing complexity and limiting people's options, you free them to (a) choose easier, and (b) remember what they've chosen.

As a quick example, we start with the Archdiocese of Saint Louis' current website, which gives users a metric ton of choices for navigation:

Archstl.org - Old Site
15 Navigation Options + Search + Quick Links

The way things are, people coming to the site for the first time have over 24 functional choices to make; it's not readily apparent what are the most important navigation options on the page.

If we want to make things easier for people, we need to reduce the options—instead of 24 options, let's trim it down to 9 main options, with a small, differently-styled 'quick links' section:

Archstl.org - New Site
5 Navigation Options + Search + Ads

In this new arrangement, it might have more graphic complexity, but the options are trimmed to such an extent, that it is (hopefully) easier for a user to choose where they would like to go.

Apple, love it or hate it, has done a great job (for some time) at simplifying people's options so they can 'make the right choice.' Look at their computer lineups:

Consumer Macs:

  • MacBook
  • iMac
  • Mac mini

Professional Macs:

  • MacBook Pro
  • Mac Pro

Companies like Dell, Lenovo, HP, and Sony have a major problem—the same kind of problem most Church websites have—they have dozens of lines of laptops and desktops, with an arcane numbering system (6402bl??? seriously???), and people have no idea what to order, or what they have ordered. When someone asks, "Do you like your computer? What model did you get?" The answer is, "Umm, something like a Dell Inspiron 660bl with the gaming option." If you ask a Mac user, the answer is: "I have a MacBook." Which one will you remember?

Simplify, and it will not only increase customer/visitor satisfaction, but it will also help people become more familiar with your site and/or products.

Tell them what they want by giving them only the essential options!

See related post on the Archdiocese of St. Louis' Web Development website: Navigational Structures: a Quick Primer

Comments

Josh from Ohio's picture

You bring up some great points.

"I'm a PC (practicing Catholic) and I'm only 30 years old."

Open Source Catholic's picture

Why, thank you!

Advancing the faith.

DebG.'s picture

Hmmm...thinking about changing my whole navigation now...great points :)

New Media for the New Evangelization!

Open Source Catholic's picture

Seth Godin just put up yet another article on reducing complexity, entitled "The Inevitable Decline Due to Clutter"

As before, he (and I) would like to point out that it's not a good thing to keep adding more and more options. Keep it simple, and people will love you.

Advancing the faith.

Open Source Catholic's picture

I also remember someone saying something about how Trader Joe's is a successful business because they distill a consumer's decision of what to buy of a particular product to one, sometimes two choices. Rather than having 8 different types and brands of Apples, they sell one. And if you don't like it, get out of the store! 90% of us don't have a clue as to what's better anyways—and that's not a bad thing :)

Advancing the faith.