Why You Should Make Your Website Clean and Uncluttered
After listening to Justin’s great webinar on Tuesday (See NOTES), I decided I would take the time to do some spring cleaning. I’d been accumulating a lot of stuff in my sidebars, so too much of a good thing was probably distracting a reader from the main event… the posts. I’d been wanting to do some work on the site anyway, so yesterday and today I removed some widgets and filtered others (see next section).
Before I go further, I should define a widget for you. A widget is usually placed in a sidebar or footer. Think of it as a little container for information which often invites a reader to some kind of action. Widgets contain ads, buttons, text, drop-down lists, icons, links, images, and more.
Now, on to you… Take a look at your site. Is it easy to see where to navigate to different parts of your website or blog? Are too many images and words distracting a visitor from your most recent post? If possible, consider a layout with just a left sidebar and a footer. Decide on what information you want to keep in or remove from your sidebar and footer.
Next, do a search online for “clean website design” and find other sites to borrow from their layout ideas. I also did a second search on “best footer design for websites” and found a few layouts that changed my whole idea on how my footer should look.
Another thing you and I have to be aware of is that probably more than half of our followers are using a mobile device to read our posts. Take a look at your blog on your phone or tablet. After the heading and the post, all your widget, sidebar, and footer clutter is also displayed afterwards. It’s not likely a mobile user is going to scroll down through all that. It’s possible, too, that your site could load slowly for some users because of all the extras that come along for the ride. Do you want to write for African readers? Pare down to a very simple layout for their cell phones.
I just now pulled up eQuipping for eMinistry on my Kindle Fire and thought, “Oh no, I have to clean some more!” I’ll save it for another day, however. I think I made the site better for desktop and laptop readers at least. For me, I’m still running a resource site, not just a blog, so I couldn’t cut out as much as I would have if this were our ministry / personal blog (guess I have to go clean up over there, too).
How to Make Your Website Clean and Uncluttered
As I started digging, I realized just how much stuff I needed to deal with, and then I remembered about the visibility feature for widgets on WordPress. Basically, I determined:
- a certain text widget only needed to be visible on one page,
- the Facebook Follow widget is now only on the Blogroll page,
- another widget offers a free download of MailChimp instructions and only appears in the right sidebar for posts, not pages.
That is, the information of some widgets were better suited for specific areas in eQuipping for eMinistry and didn’t need to be displayed for every post and page. For widgets that could go anywhere, I only kept a handful that show up everywhere on the site. The remaining widgets appear less than half of the time.
It makes no sense to me, but to have this feature for your WordPress.org (pay for your domain) site, you need a plugin, like Widget Visibility, but if you have a free WordPress.com site, it’s a feature included for all widgets. Wordpress.com has a thorough support article on widgets and explains visibility.
I have more major overhauls in mind, but I’ll take these changes a bit at a time so, hopefully, eQuipping for eMinistry will be more useful for you by the end of 2015.
Are you going to do some spring cleaning on your site?
- The image is from the new look for my footer. I added a new community feature and moved social media contact information from the sidebar.
- If you missed Justin’s Writing for the Web webinar or would like to see the PowerPoints, they’re both here on Indigitous.org. I’ll do a summary write-up for bloggers as soon as I’m able.
- I recently added a lot of social media events in the left sidebar. You’ll find a lot of outreach ideas for Easter.