In the 1960’s the United States Navy came up with the KISS principle to remind their engineers that most systems work best when kept simple, and to avoid over complicating things when it comes to design. The KISS principle isn’t meant to be associated with stupidity, rather it applies to very intelligent systems that achieve success at their maximum simplicity.
So this idea of simplicity- what does it mean for Web Designers and is it fundamentally the same concept across professions?
Excellent writers are identified by their precision, and succinctness rather than by their ability to create very complex sentence structure. Foundational skills for successful business include good time management and customer service- easy concepts. The motto for many professional athletes during training is “back to basics,” and even my personal philosophy holds true that “a simple life is a happy life.”
In web design, simple equates to clean, functional, and efficient. A beautifully simple design can combine images, fonts, colors, and graphics without giving the user a panic attack. Let’s take a look at our simple website design…
The basic principles of web design have been addressed in many articles, by many industry professionals, for many years. As Internet Marketers we should value the fact that the rudimentary concepts of user-friendly websites are seldom changing. Don’t avoid these conventions to be different or stand out.
- Consistent Navigation– You don’t want your users to get lost, so keep the navigation towards the top of the page or the left side where it is easy to identify.
- Highly Visible Page Titles– Users aren’t reading all of the content on your pages, they’re likely just scanning for what they need. Keep page titles and subtitles easy to read, and true to what information is actually on that page.
- Negative Space– Not every inch of the screen needs to be filled with text or pictures. Negative (also known as white) space provides balance, proportion, and contrast.
- Text and Font– Make sure your text speaks to the style of your site. For example using elegant font with a softer site vs. more modern or retro. It is also a good rule of thumb to stick to left alignment.
- Theme– Make sure you match! Every tiny element of the design adds to the overall attractiveness, so make sure things like font choices, sizes, headers, buttons, spacing, illustration style, etc… all take the form of a cohesive theme.
The takeaway message here is that having a complex website design doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to rank better, or get more conversions. If you’ve done good SEO work on the back end, a simple site works just as well and frequently even better at attracting customers. When a potential buyer of your product or service comes to your site you want them to be able to find what they’re looking for right away. If they have to wait around for things to load or can’t figure out your navigation, a negative feeling is immediately attached to your business. Visitors to your page need to know almost immediately what you can offer them, and how they can get it. The most important thing is that you deliver your intended message in the clearest, most attractive way possible.