You’ve probably heard of the saying keep it simple stupid (or KISS for short). While the term was originally coined by military aviation engineer Kelly Johnson over half a decade ago (long before the internet), it’s an excellent way to approach building new websites. Far too many people over-complicate the process with formulas or fancy flash graphics, assuming it will make their website stand out. Well, the website might stand out, just not in a good way.
It’s a common assumption that following the KISS methodology restricts webmasters to producing basic, cookie-cutter websites with little-to-no value. The truth, however, is that you can create brilliant, engaging, quality websites using nothing more than basic HTML and PHP code. And even if you lack the coding skills necessary to build an HTML/PHP website, you can still follow the KISS methodology using a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress.
Avoid Flashy Graphics and Fancy Scripts
Using heavy Flash and/or Java animations on your website is typically discouraged for a couple of different reasons. First and foremost, they may not load properly on all web browsers, sending some of your visitors out the door and to your competitor’s site. In today’s day and age, people use a wide variety of devices and browsers, some of which have compatibility problems with Flash and Java animations. These animations may load just fine for 90% of your visitors, but that loss of 10% (or more) can really hurt your conversion numbers in the long run.
Another reason why you should stick with the simple approach and avoid Flash/Java is because of their negative impact on site speed and performance. Forcing your visitors to load animations requires bandwidth, which in turn adds critical time to your site’s loading speed. Depending on the size and type of animations used, it may have a minimal impact on your site’s load time, or it could be more severe.
“Speeding up websites is important — not just to site owners, but to all Internet users. Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there. But faster sites don’t just improve user experience; recent data shows that improving site speed also reduces operating costs. Like us, our users place a lot of value in speed — that’s why we’ve decided to take site speed into account in our search rankings. We use a variety of sources to determine the speed of a site relative to other sites,” said the Google Search Quality Team.
Google, along with many other search engines, use ‘bots’ to scan and read the content on websites so it can rank them appropriately. Unfortunately, these bots aren’t capable of reading fancy animations. They can read the animation code, but they’re still left guessing as to what the animation contains. This creates an additional barrier of difficulty for webmasters attempting to rank an animation-heavy website.
Fact: Simple Logos Have a Stronger Impact That Complex Logos
There’s a common approach that some of the world’s most successful companies take towards designing their logos: going with the basics. Apple, for instance, went from a minimal apple-shaped logo consisting of several different colors to an even simpler apple-shaped logo featuring a single color. Microsoft, Google and Yahoo follow this same ‘simple’ approach with their logo design. While they may spend millions of dollars into the the design process, it’s the simple logos that ultimately end up winning.
When building a business website, you should take a similar approach to your logo, header and graphics (with the exception of content-related images). Keeping things simple will prevent confusion among visitors, which in turn will boost your conversion rate. Going overboard with fancy, complex graphics will only hurt your site’s performance in the long run, so stick with the basics!
Why Apple.com Used To Perform Poorly In Google’s Search Results
Not too long ago, Apple’s official website was tossed around in Google’s search results like a rag doll. Some analysts automatically assumed this was the result of Google handing a manual penalty to one of their competitors; however, its was later revealed that Google’s bots weren’t able to properly read Apple.com due to its heavy animation sequences, so its rankings tanked. Apple eventually addressed this issue by reverting back to a simple website design, and so their Google rankings returned.
KISS Tips For a Better Website
- Avoid Flash and/or Java animations.
- Keep your site’s navigation above the fold.
- Create clean page titles in 70 characters or less.
- Define your content with headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.)
- Interlink your content with relevant anchor text and/or images.
- Use bullet-points, such as this list, to emphasize elements.
- Add relevant alt text to images.
- Check your site regularly for both internal and external broken links.
- When using WordPress, limit your number of plugins.