Itís easy to get excited when you first launch a web
site or when you finally decide itís time to roll up your sleeves and
revamp that mess your nephew built for you two years ago.
There are so many routes to take with a web site.
Thereís flash animation, animated gifs, music, images, limitless space
for you to ramble and post your opinions. When the blank canvas of the web is
laid out in front of you, itís hard to know where to stop.
While creativity is to be encouraged, when you chart a
course for cyberspace, consider the benefits of restraint. Before your site
gets too ornate and fancy. Before you add more bells and whistles than you
could ever hope to maintain, consider that some of the most successful web
sites are incredible simple. Ponder these examples.
It doesnít get more basic than Craigslist. This
classified site consists completely of text and text links. By some estimates more
than two million unique users a day come here to buy and sell and browse.
Granted there are a lot of links on the homepage, but can you imagine how long
it would take the page to load if each section had its own button or if the
whole thing were laid out on top of a distracting background image?
Google knows what you came to do Ė youíre there
to search. While Google does have several other useful tools and services, it
knows what its bread and butter is. Google doesnít put any stuff in the
way of you and your search. Enter a keyword, browse your results and you
donít ever have to wonder why thereís an animated gif of a cat
doing ballet in the corner.
Careful With Those Tricks
The point isnít that you have to take a minimalist
philosophy to be successful online. One look at Yahoo, Amazon or Ebay and its
apparent that many successful sites have their hands in a lot of different
But you do need to keep your site focused. If you want to
sell your products online, create a site that sells. If you want your site to
be a showcase for your consulting services, showcase your consulting services.
Donít distract visitors with pointless pictures, music or copy.
In other words, if you want everyone to notice your shirt,
donít leave the house wearing fancy pants.
Dan Burbank is the resident columnist for GeniusShack.com (http://www.geniusshack.com) and has been
leading professional web design projects for more than five years.
Thanks for reading.