877.799.9994   330.666.5164

Website Design: Managing TMI

Have you ever visited a website with the single purpose of purchasing a product, only to find that the website was so overloaded with information and so convoluted that you couldn’t figure out where to even begin your search?

I recently visited a very popular website with the purpose of updating some of my computer software.  When arriving at the home page, I found that the site was overwhelmingly packed with information. Too much information. There were so many images, so many navigation buttons and drop-downs (53 links under the first drop-down to be exact), and so many levels of hierarchy (font sizes, colors, anomalies, etc.) that my eyes immediately went crossed.

Every other page of the site was equally overwhelming and, frankly, annoying. If the product I was about to purchase wasn’t a necessity or if it was a product that I could have purchased elsewhere, I would have bailed immediately upon arriving at the homepage. I really thought that such a popular site would have been set up with a much simpler design and at least a trace of organization. Boy, was I wrong.

Ask your customers if your site is easy to use, whether they are able to quickly find what they are looking for and what can be improved for a better user experience.

After a lot of time and frustration, I was finally able to purchase what I needed. But this was no thanks to the website. I actually had to contact the company directly to get the answers to all of my questions. The website was no help to me at all.

After leaving the site, I needed a nap. I thought, “What a shame.”  I am pretty sure the website included everything that I needed — somewhere.  But the way the information was organized made it impossible to sift through and hard to even look at.

Of course, it wouldn’t be very productive to just complain about these problems without offering solutions that could possibly be useful to our clients. So I’ve since returned to the site to critique it and to decide what I would do differently to reorganize and rework the site to make the user experience more efficient and more pleasant. (Note: The name of the company will remain anonymous to protect the not-so-innocent.)

So, here is what I have come up with:

Problem:
Scattered information/poor sense of hierarchy

Solution:
Visitors should know where to look first, second, third, and so on. The first thing that you should see should be the most important element on the page. With the proper placement, sizing and color of page elements, this can be achieved, no matter how much information you have to share.  Delete irrelevant information.  After doing so, if you are still left with a lot of material, that’s OK, just make sure it is properly organized with the order of importance being a priority.

Problem:
Unruly navigation – 53 drop-down links under the first navigation button? Are you kidding me?

Solution:
Simplify your navigation. It sounds pretty obvious, but having too many buttons is a very common problem. If you think you have too many navigation buttons or drop-down menus, adopt a good system for organizing your buttons, such as breaking those navigations up into groups (a top nav, a side nav, etc.). Or try using sub-page navigations.

Make sure the buttons are easy to read and easy to click on. Avoid using multiple tiers of drop-down menus that are often very difficult to maneuver. (As you try to very carefully navigate your mouse across and down and across again, your mouse falls off the edge of a button and the drop-down disappears and you’re back to square one. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Ugh.)

Include a site map on your website and/or a search box so visitors can type in what they need and quickly arrive at their destination.

Problem:
Trouble finding and/or purchasing a product

Solution:
This is also directly related to hierarchy and/or navigation. Whether you have one product or service or 100 products and services, make sure there is always an easy way to find the product and description and a direct route to the final sale (getting there with as few clicks as possible). Perhaps it’s as simple as placing a “Buy Now” button next to your product image or a phone number on each page where customers can contact you. Instead of a wild goose chase to the product and checkout, make finding and purchasing a product easy and as simple of a process as possible.

One last suggestion would be to take some time to evaluate your own site. Think about the sites that you find easiest to utilize and what it is that makes those sites so user-friendly. Compare those sites to your own. Ask your customers if your site is easy to use, whether they are able to quickly find what they are looking for and what can be improved for a better user experience.

If you suspect your website is suffering from TMI, contact Pilot Fish at 877-799-9994 ext. 2104 for a professional website evaluation.