We’ve all visited a website at some stage that has immediately confused us.
Where should you head next? Why can’t you find the one thing you wanted to read, download or watch? Why does the menu have so many options?
What on earth is going on?
A noisy website is an instant turn-off. If it doesn’t direct the user towards the most obvious goal via the most obvious route, they’ll head elsewhere – quickly.
What if your business website is like that? In fact, when was the last time you checked its usability?
It’s time to put your customer hat on and suss out whether or not your website is suffering from the following examples of needless noise:
There’s just too much content
Sure, Google wants to see plenty of original, engaging and varied content on your website if it’s going to rank highly, but that doesn’t mean you have to fill every piece of white space with text, images or video.
It’s the opposite, in fact. White space should be your goal – as much of it as possible. You’ll need your logo, company name, navigation, header image, title, intro text, some bullets and additional images – but spend time working out which of those things are essential.
Some examples of what you might not require include:
- your tagline;
- a secondary navigation;
- your Twitter feed;
- popular, recent and featured blog posts; and
- accreditation and award logos.
The menu is too fancy/wordy/big
Take a look at your website’s menu. If you had no idea what your company did, does it immediately steer you in the direction of pages that will reveal the answer?
Home, About Us, Products, Blog, Contact; that’s probably all you need – and it’s important you use those kinds of words. Swapping ‘About Us’ for ‘Meet the dudes’ might feel like a good idea at the time, but it’ll probably be irritating to strangers and will have needlessly extended the length of your menu bar.
Be careful with sub menus, too. What looks like a perfectly formed navigation bar can quickly fall into disrepair and noise when expanded if the options within are too voluminous.
There’s no priority for content
‘Above the fold’ is a term borrowed from the newspaper industry that refers to the viewable content on the front page of a newspaper when it’s folded over. And, as you’d expect, it needs to be the most important news story of the day in order for passers-by to grab a copy.
Placing content above the fold in web design is equally important, and noisy websites often suffer from the fact that there has been no strategy put into the placement of page elements.
Your company name, logo, navigation, USP and a call-to-action (CTA) should all be immediately viewable – not a bunch of things people are unlikely to interact or engage with.
You’re using sliders
Now, this will spark some debate, because there are web designers out there who love using sliders, and there are plenty who don’t.
A slider is a series of images (usually accompanied by text) that whizz by at the top of a web page. We don’t think they’re needed and, rather than encouraging people to stay on the website longer, will probably either go completely unnoticed or irritate users.
You shouldn’t need several scrolling header images to tell the story of your business and its products. One engaging, unique piece of imagery or a photograph at the top of the site is all you need. You have an entire website on which to place additional visual content.
We’ve only scratched the surface above, but if your website exhibits any of the noise we’ve identified, it’s time to go back to the drawing board!