Have you ever read the book by Steve Krug’s Titled, “Don’t Make Me Think?” What exactly does that mean? Clearly, we do want our clients to think about our content.  But, what we don’t want them to think about is how to find our content or the contact form or anything else for that matter. We want to avoid playing with expectations. Cleverness should not get in the way of clarity.

Keeping that in mind, and the hope that you’ll find a copy of Don’t Make Me Think for yourself — it’s a quick read! — the following are some of the practical applications of the “Krug Philosophy.”

Keep It Simple

If you overproduce a web page — as can often happen if it’s the design team that’s leading the show — it’s more likely that visitors will dismiss important information as marketing fluff. This goes for the big picture as well as granular elements like buttons and links. However, you should be sure that user-friendliness doesn’t take a back seat to design for design’s sake.

Two points on this: first, simplicity may well be…simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. If you’re going to have “less design,” you’re probably going to have to sweat the details more to get it right. And second, laugh at Craigslist if you want, but first have a look at the website of perhaps the world’s leading usability experts, the Nielsen Norman Group.

Keep It Digestible

You might be tempted to tell them everything you can. Don’t. If you think that laying it all out there is the way not to miss anyone who might be even vaguely interested in what you’re selling you’re wrong.

First of all, doing so makes you sound desperate, like a kid laying out every possible reason, most of them entirely irrelevant, why she should be allowed to go to the big party this weekend …

Second, well, it’s too much. People will skip the wall of text in search of something that can give them the information they want quickly.

But be sure you understand why speed is so important here. I don’t buy the whole “short attention span” argument in this case. Most of us have plenty of attention to give to the things that are important. But we’re all busy and we want to solve our problems quickly. Concise copy can make that possible. Give me the supporting data at a secondary level. I’ll seek it out if I want it.

Make Search Matter

It has to work, its granularity has to fit the needs of the site, and results pages have to be useful. In other words, don’t provide more facets/filters than you have content to support. The result will be too many empty search results pages, which never looks good. But do give your visitors the option to sort by as many criteria as you possibly can. That’s more easily imagined (and more applicable, usually) for products than for services.

Don’t Leave Them Lost

Landing pages and microsites can boost marketing results tremendously. If the only way to access them is via your marketing links — email, social media, etc. — they can be islands unto themselves. If you can get to them from your main site, you must maintain the navigational thread that will allow visitors to find their way back to where they came. As important as the trail back is the sense of staying oriented — people want to know where they are, not just know how to find their way back to somewhere familiar.

Make Connections Obvious

Build and highlight the connection between related materials in different sections. Pull together all of the content related to a particular topic in one place, no matter where it “lives” on the site. The goal is to help your audience understand how various pieces of your puzzle fit together so they don’t have to figure it out themselves.

Don’t Make Them Think

Finally, don’t be too clever with your navigational structure or your section names or how various sections relate to one another. It should be obvious where to find information on your services, say, vs. where to find information on your company. (We’ve been guilty of this ourselves. For many years we’ve had “How We Do It” as a main site section. I still stand behind the content on that page, but the title is pretty meaningless out of context. And, even in context — it lives between the What We Do and The Results sections — it begs more questions than it answers.)

None of this is “rocket surgery” as Mr. Krug says, but it’s all critical in creating a site that will encourage engagement and convince visitors to learn more about you as they make their buying decision.

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