It seems like nearly every day, I go to a popular website and see examples of how not to design a site. And the number one no-no that all of these highly-trafficked sites commit is that their designs have too much thoughtless clutter.
The worst case is when a seemingly clean site has a random patch of cluttery buttons in the corner somewhere. I took this screenshot yesterday of a popular dictionary site.
Apparently the makers of the site decided to cram as many social networking site buttons into the upper-right corner of the webpage, in hopes of getting attention on social sites.
Would you click on any of those buttons? I know I wouldn’t. Aside from placing those buttons in the last place they’ll be seen on the site, they just add clutter. The buttons have effectively taken attention away from the core section of the site (the definitions and dictionary look-up), and are digitally waving their hands and screaming “look at me! look at me!” in the nose-bleed section of the layout. I think it’s safe to assume that those buttons have a really, really low click-through ratio.
If I was going to use one of these buttons, I’d have to take about 20 minutes to scan through all the buttons just to find the bookmarking service I wanted. Also, the buttons feel like they were hastily added, as an afterthought. It’s as if some big-wig in the company read about social networking in the newspaper the night before, burst into the designer’s cubicle and demanded the designer increase their “social media whatchamacallit” NOW.
Would I Click This?
Every element should pass the “would I click on this?” test. When I’m laying out a design and want to add something (like a button or a link) outside of the content, I always ask myself if I would click on it as a visitor. If I won’t, then visitors probably won’t either.
Every ounce of space is precious. When you have a great minimal design like Unclutterer has, every tiny thing you add to the layout is going to be seen. Especially if the element is added thoughtfully and tastefully.
Take Unclutterer’s new “Subscribe on Twitter” link. Erin mentioned yesterday that the Unclutterer Twitter account had received a ton of new followers last week, probably due to the recent addition of a simple link and button to the sidebar. Compare these two implementations and ask yourself which you would rather click on:
When it comes to design, every bit, every piece, every ounce must be weighed and thought through. Adding even a tiny thing dilutes the rest of the design, but if added carefully and thoughtfully, can actually enhance the overall design.