The most important element for making a website effective is a powerful message. Immediately after that comes usability – that is, your website CANNOT be confusing or else people won’t use it.
Let me go into the seven signs that your site is confusing and then I’ll give you a few tips on how to improve it.
Sign 1. You are wondering IF your site is confusing.
If you’ve been wondering whether or not your site is confusing, chances are it is.
Consider the opposite – if you are confident that your website is NOT confusing, it’s because you know what to put on it, what to make prominent, and what you want people to do there. You know what results you want from your site. When you know these things, you’ll be confident your site isn’t confusing.
You should be confident, clear, and intentional about your site. You should not be wondering or confused about it yourself.
Sign 2. The text is so small you can’t read it.
There shouldn’t be anything too small to read. This is an even bigger concern if you are marketing to an older group (boomers) or groups with low attention span (ADD).
Common causes of too-small text:
- You’ve had graphics shrunk down to fit.
- You’ve added disclaimers in the footer.
- You’ve tweaked fonts in one place of the site and messed them up elsewhere.
- You’ve copied and pasted from other places into your site, like MS Word.
- Your site is getting old – today’s browsers have more resolution.
- You haven’t payed attention to smaller, mobile devices.
Sign 3. You feel the need to write instructions on using your website.
Instructions must die. Instructions are dead.
If the message of your site and how to navigate your site isn’t instantly obvious (or figure-out-able within seconds), it’s too hard. Do not ever consider a “How to use this site” or “Instructions” page for your website. No one will read them.
If you think your site needs explaining on it’s use or organization, it’s too confusing.
Sign 4. You have more than a handful of links.
Your menu should not contain more than a handful of links for getting around your site. Too many links makes things confusing.
Also, remember that people glance over menus to get a grasp of a site. If menu options are too long with too many drop downs, etc, they become a chore and people will resist using them. You don’t want people to feel resistance when they enter your website.
Along with fewer links, just have one menu. Multiple menus means multiple confusion. For coaches, you don’t have that much stuff to organize. Keep it simple.
Sign 5. You have never watched someone else use your site.
It’s an eye opener, even to a web designer like me, to watch someone else take over your laptop and ‘have a go’ at your site. It humbles and reminds me, big time, that things need to be easier on websites.
If you’ve never seen anyone work their way around your site. Do it. After watching them for a few minutes, try asking them to complete any task like filling out your contact form.
Sign 6. Your site has more than a few styles of text.
By “styles of text”, I mean varying sizes, shapes, colors of fonts.
On your website, all you need is one style for headlines and one style for body content. Maybe a second headline style for subheadings, but even that may be overkill.
The Exception: Many marketers love to use odd text, stand out text, etc to take the eye on a selling whirlwind. That can work if you have specific intentions and are advised to do so. However, if you’re a marketing novice and are simply trying to create an easy to read and use website, keep it simpler and minimal at first.
Sign 7. You think “everything” on your site is important.
If you think “everything” on your site is important and you want visitors to know about it all, and you try to get some sort of mention or link to it on the homepage, then your site is probably confusing.
Trying to get it all on the home page usually makes a mess – everything vies for attention, and nothing gets it. Worse, your true one desired action, having someone call and talk with you, gets lost in the shuffle.
Three things to do to remove confusion.
1. Know your single most important call to action. Make sure it’s prominent and in multiple places. Even give it it’s own link in the menu. Keep directing people back to that action, often.
2. Watch three people use your site. Keep your mouth shut and let them do whatever they want. After a few minutes, get their feedback. Ask, “Well, what is it?”. Here’s where you’ll learn to appreciate the need for simplicity and find gems for where to start de-confusing your site.
3. Cut everything in half. Reduce text per page, calls to action, and menu sizes. Add more white space, shorten widths of text, use simpler words. You can have more pages, but on each page, put less.
In summary …
Don’t you appreciate it when a website (or any technology, app, device, etc), has figured out how to become easier for you? Make your site less confusing and you’ll find more people taking action like contacting you for a free coaching session.
Let me ask you …
What’s the biggest thing you’ve garnered from this article? What are you doing now that confuses people? What are some areas you can improve upon? Will you be commuting, at a networking event, or a coffee shop soon where you could simply slide your laptop over to someone and ask, “Hey, can you tell me what you think this website is about?”
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below.