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:
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:
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:
- Mac mini
- 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