web design

3 Ways to Make Your Website Simple

Simple Web Design
Written by Mike Cotton

Simple Web DesignThis month we are focusing on making things Simple, Beautiful and Remarkable when it comes to the design of your website. Today we are going to focus on 3 different things that you can do to make your website more simple in it’s design.

1) Keep Things “Above the Fold”

You may have heard the term “Above the Fold” as a reference to newspapers placing their most important or intriguing headlines close to the top of the front page. Most newspapers are delivered and displayed to customers folded up, meaning that only the top half of the front page is visible. Thus, an item that is “above the fold” may be one that the editors feel will entice people to buy the paper.

This term has been extended and used in web development to refer the portions of a webpage that can be visible without scrolling. Since different users have different monitor sizes, there is no set measurement for where the “fold” is located. Based on research conducted by w3schools.com, most screen resolutions are higher than 1024 pixels wide and 768 pixels high. What this means is that if you can place all of your important navigation links, announcements, news, etc. within the top 600 pixels of your website, your information will be able to be viewed by visitors without scrolling down. A good example would be the OurChurch.Com homepage. This definitely makes things simpler for your website visitors.

2) Minimize Information on the Homepage

One thing that I’ve noticed about some websites is that they try to fit a whole bunch of information on the front page of their site because they feel that all that information is important and needs to be presented up front. The fact is that ALL of the content on your site should be important, but cannot be fit onto your home page is a “simple” manner. It just can’t be done.

Instead, what you need to do is the following:

  1. Prioritize – Put your content in order from what would be most the important information for your visitors.
  2. Minimize – Based on your priorities, decide what things you can live without, what things can be linked to on another page and what things absolutely need to stay on the homepage.

You may find that linking to information is just as effective as listing it all on one page. You can use creative (and tasteful) graphics to represent different upcoming events instead listing them all out. You can have updates and news scrolling within a smaller sized box rather than displaying everything down the length of the page. There are a lot of things you can do to keep your front page clean and simple.

3) Restructure Your Navigation

There are several websites I’ve seen that have just a few pages on them. On the other hand, I have seen websites that have hundreds or even thousands of pages on them. So how do you keep things simple when you have a lot of web pages to link to?

The answer is to get creative with your menu structure. Rather than a long list of menu items, try to organize your menu items into Menus and Sub-Menus. For example, here is a list of menu items that you might see on a church website:

  • Homepage
  • Church History
  • Mission Statement
  • Our Pastor
  • Our Staff
  • Our Location
  • Adult Ministries
  • Youth Ministries
  • Children’s Ministries
  • Senior Adult Ministries
  • Sermon Downloads
  • Photo Gallery
  • Video Archive
  • Contact Us
  • Prayer Requests
  • Events Calendar
  • Sign Our Guestbook

Quite a list, right? Well, with sub-menus, we can easily condense the menu down to this:

  • Home
  • About Us
  • Ministries
  • Media
  • Community
  • Contact Us

When a website visitor “hovers” their mouse over each of these menu items, a sub-menu can “drop-down” to be selected. For example, the “About Us” menu can show the “Church History”, “Mission Statement”, “Our Pastor”, “Our Staff”, and “Our Location” sub-menus. A good example of the appropriate use of sub-menus can be seen at one of OurChurch.Com’s Custom CMS clients’ sites, Knott Avenue Christian Church. You may even notice that some of their sub-menus have sub-menus of their own.

With a well-organized menu structure, users will not be overwhelmed with the amount of links to choose from and chances are, if done well, they will know exactly how to get to where they want to be. This will make browsing through your website a lot simpler.

This by no means is a complete list of things you can do to make things simpler on your site, but they are a few of the things that can make quite an impact when applied correctly.

Feel free to comment on these 3 things or even add some of your own in the comment field below.

About the author

Mike Cotton

Mike joined OurChurch.com as Web Designer/Developer in September, 2006. Born and raised in Houston, TX, he is now married and has 3 adorable children. In his spare time he enjoys playing piano/keys and singing throughout the local area as well as at church. You may also see him acting in church dramas as well as a local Improv Comedy Troupe!

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