Simplicity Is Key in all forms of Art and Design

Mark Minicucci / October 28, 2019

“As far as guitar solos and things like that are concerned, it’s more important to complement the music rather than take away from it.”

-Kirk Hammet

I began playing guitar when I was 13 years old. Music was how I channeled my creativity. It was the most natural way for me to communicate the thoughts and emotions that constantly ran through my mind.

When I was younger, I would practice for hours. I learned the most common scale positions and fingerings like the back of my hand (pun intended). I could play pretty fast and knew most of the tricks. However, when I first made the leap into playing my solos, they weren’t memorable. It just sounded like noise.

Overplaying is the act of trying to do too much to impress other people. In the end, it’s the melody that makes the solo more memorable and the song more complete. In other words, simplicity makes for a much better user experience because the audience becomes engaged with the song as opposed to working hard to hear it and understand it.

As I got older, I grew to understand that it’s not about how fast you can play or how many notes you can fit into a phrase. It’s quite the opposite. Yes, shredding is impressive but the greatest players of all time know the most important component of music. Less is more.

The same is true in all aspects of art. Especially in web design.

Harvard, the University of Maryland, and the University of Colorado conducted a joint study that discovered different demographics aesthetically preferred different styles and visuals. While different people not liking the same thing isn’t news, there was one important takeaway. Universally across demographics, no one preferred to look at complex web design. Researchers found the reason for this general consensus about visually complex web design had to do with the fact that we as humans don’t like to overwork our eyes and brains trying to decode, store, and process information.

For the fresh company looking to build a website, or an older one looking to revamp the one they have, there is sometimes a temptation to load a new web platform with all the bells and whistles (chatbots, sliders, several high-definition videos, numerous high-resolution photos, pop-up call to actions, animations, and more).

While these features are great on their own, presented all on one website may be overload for site users. And if an organization has a website that isn’t appealing to site visitors, then the organization has failed in its outreach. It created an expensive “digital paperweight,” a pretty useless object occupying the internet.

I’ve seen my share of online platforms bogged down with complex or unneeded elements. These sites usually suffer from one of three things, in some cases, all three. First, the sites have so many things ingrained in them that it’s hard to find the calls to action. Websites are built to drive site visitors to buy something, or subscribe to something, or provide feedback on something. With that said, site users should easily be able to find those opportunities to engage with a business.

Second, there are some organizations that overuse modern capabilities, causing their websites to have slow load times, and in effect, terrible bounce rates. Bounce rate is the statistic that speaks to the number of individuals that visit a website and navigate from the website after viewing only one page. It has long been suspected that high bounce rates are due in part because of poor load times. To place this into perspective, on average, 9.6% of visitors bounce when page speed is 2 seconds versus 32.3% of visitors bounce when page speed is 7 seconds.

Finally, complex design on sites often equates to web platforms that aren’t mobile-friendly. It’s a huge mistake to weigh a website down with so many components that it creates a terrible mobile-experience (i.e. slow load times, misaligned texts, distorted images, etc.). Over half of all internet users access the world wide web with a mobile device. And it’s predicted that by the year 2025, almost 73% of all internet users will access the web solely via their smartphones.

So when it comes to designing a website, three important points should always be taken into consideration:

  1. Every element, from typography, to a logo, to color selection, should communicate subtle information about a brand.
  2. If these elements don’t do their job, a designer is often left to overcompensate by adding unnecessary images and copy, which wind up visually complicating a website, distracting site viewers’ eyes.
  3. To visually optimize a website, it’s important to make a site user’s journey as simple as possible by communicating as much as you can with the least amount of elements.

You will always hear me say, less is more. Simple, smart web design can do wonders for an organization. Doing too much doesn’t often yield the results a company hopes for. It’s like a guitar player overplaying a solo. The player might like it, but the audience will not.

If you happened to be one of those people that is in the market for new a website but know you may not have the discerning eye to create something innovative, beautiful, and simple, feel free to contact us. Model B would love to help you.

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