Why Simple is Better in Communication and Web Design
According to some sources, we are exposed to as many as 3,000 messages a day from websites, email, text messages, billboards, direct mail, Facebook, Twitter, TV, radio, and on and on.
As a result, we no longer process messages the way we did 10 or 20 years ago. Instead of reading and giving each message our full attention,
- We scan to glean the main point
- We skip over boring or complicated parts of messages
- We try to process more than one messages at the same time
- We get distracted by other things
- Often our top priority is to finish processing all the messages rather than be impacted by any of them
- Unless we respond immediately, we forget the message almost immediately.
This is not intentional. It’s just the way our brains have adapted to this new reality.
As consumers of messages we understand this. The challenge as communicators, web developers, and leaders is to translate this understanding to the messages we generate, the websites we develop, and processes we create.
If we want people to respond to our messages, we need to communicate in simple bite-size chunks.
- Get to the point as quickly as possible.
- Use as few words as possible. Link to any additional info that may be helpful.
- Format messages for scanning with headings, short paragraphs, and bullets.
- Avoid acronyms, theological phrases, technical terms, and insider language some recipients don’t know.
- Make the next step clear and as easy as possible.
We need to make our websites as intuitive as possible.
- Don’t make people think.
- Don’t try to make them read instructions.
- Think long and hard about the menu structure & text from the user’s perspective, so people can quickly and easily find what they’re looking for.
- Make forms as short as possible.
- Cut the fluff – eliminate as many pages and as much text off each page as you possibly can.
Communications (and websites specifically) have a tendency to bloat. People want to add more but rarely want to reduce. It takes real intentionality and tenacity to make things simple and keep them that way.
- What changes have you noticed in the number of messages you process and the way you process them?
- How important is it to you to make your communications and website as simple as possible?
- What suggestions do you have for keeping things simple?