Long story short, EyeQuant studied 300 websites using a machine learning algorithm to determine the “visual clarity score” for a website. Essentially, the higher the score, the less cluttered your site is. The team then ground the data up against the bounce rate data they had for the sites and found that there is a correlation between the clarity score of a website and its bounce rate.
The busier/less clear your website, the higher your bounce rate.
In addition to not overwhelming a visitor with options or data, a clean and uncluttered site also loads faster. And with that, Google and SOASTA learned that a longer load time also means a higher bounce rate (conversely, a faster load time means fewer bounces).
What does that mean for you and your website and how can you apply it?
It boils down to embracing the idea of focusing on the essentials. That means removing elements and content that do not support user tasks.
One tool to help you understand if an element on your site is helping users with a task is to use Google Page Analytics Chrome Extension. This function of Analytics loads on top of your website that you’ve set up Google Analytics for and shows you what percentage of users are clicking on the links on your pages.
If you swear up and down that users need layered navigation right on the home page in order to get right to the product they’re after, check your assumption in Page Analytics. You might be right (which means you need to continue fighting to keep that element) or you would be wrong and in fact, almost no visitors click on that element while on the home page.
In regards to Page Analytics, Google has inexplicably decided to depreciate this extension. So while it works fine, for now, they won’t be updating the tool anymore. So if it starts breaking, it’s broken forever. 🙁
Don’t Use A Chainsaw
While it can be freeing to just hack off a part of your site you think is just fat, be very cautious that you don’t make your user’s primary tasks or goals more difficult by hiding or removing content they need to interact with.
Take the approach of a woodcarver, not a lumberjack. Remove unnecessary things layer by layer until you’re left with a truly beautiful and functional creation. Don’t just hack at everything you see.
Be a woodcarver, not a lumberjack.
One place that can add visual bloat to a site but not really burden the load-time is the copy. While it’s tempting to wax poetically about your product or service on your homepage, keep your copy crisp and to the point (but be sure it sounds like a human wrote it). As always, talk about the benefits, not the features.
Omit needless words.
-Strunk and White, The Elements of Style
Use the area above the first expected page break of your site to give a reason to your visitors to scroll down to the deep content you have below.
Most sites do this with what’s called a “hero image.” The hero image is usually a striking visual image with a select amount of text. While it’s fairly commonplace now, the hero image does tend to work well to draw folks in. Just make sure you use imagery and copy that matches your site and the content you want to draw people to.
The world of minimalistic web design is fairly vast, but one certainly worth delving into. If you have questions about how to pare down your site to be more streamlined, or you want to write out redesign your site, let us know and we’d be happy to lend a helping hand and an expert eye.