User-friendly content: why splendid simplicity is necessary. Any fool can make something complicated; it takes a genius to make it simple.
The how is simple: make it simple. Why? People don’t have the time, the patience, and the will to figure out what you’re flapping in front of their noses. People today are busy. Even people who waste time do it in a hurry. If the homepage of a website is too complicated, the visitor will leave. If the headline of an article is too complicated to comprehend, it won’t even be opened. And if the intro to a video isn’t clearly stated of its purpose, the viewer will switch.
Blinded by the lights
You’re on your one-hour-lunch-break and you walk into the nearest shopping mall, one you’ve never been to before. You see the lights, the colours, the escalators. Shop after shop, brand after brand, stuff after stuff. The shops are huge and there are more aisles than minutes. There is an information desk, but it’s fully computerized. By the time you’ve absorbed everything around you, your lunch break is almost up and you’re left confused, frustrated, and empty handed.
How should a homepage look?
A homepage should make you feel at home: comfortable, familiar, and relaxed.
A homepage should be like a standard hotel lobby: a reception, some sofas, and lots of space.
The receptionist is the navigation menu which kindly escorts you to where you want to go. The navigation menu should be of one colour and the text another, preferably white and easy to read. The homepage itself should serve no other function than to be a place to rest and greet the receptionist.
The sofas are the pieces of content on the homepage. Perhaps a few pictures and some text. The text shouldn’t have all the information of the company or product, but rather a teaser of what the curious visitor might expect. If there are too many sofas, the visitor will never decide where to sit and will just walk out.
The clear space is the preferably white background where the visitor can rest their eyes and appreciate the content. Paradoxically, it is the empty space that causes content to be effective. The white space acts as an elegant picture frame.
How should a heading look?
You’re still in the shopping mall and you look at a shop window and see a manikin looking rather trendy. Is it an electronic store? No, it’s a clothes store, obviously. That’s how obvious your heading should be about your article and it should be as trendy as the manikin through the shop window. By looking at the manikin, you’ll also get an idea of what kind of clothes store it is: sportswear, suits, casual. Sometimes you’ll see the price displayed below the manikin; numbers can also be used in your heading, e.g. 7 Ways to Annoy Your Sister Using a Hedgehog. People also like specificity, so adding the hedgehog on the end might be more effective than just ‘7 ways to annoy your sister’.
How should a video intro look?
It’s literally a matter of seconds which depend on whether the viewer is going to keep watching or not. State the purpose of the video before you start talking about something ambiguous. Keep the routine introduction clip very short if you have one: 10 seconds is enough. Don’t use too many transitions. Transitions are like movies in 3-D: at first it’s fun, but bores and sores quickly. If it’s a tutorial, just talk about what to do, and don’t keep giving your opinion – nobody asked you. Whatever kind of video it is, understand that the viewer doesn’t want the full meal if the appetizer is lame.
Simplicity with your content is what really attracts your audience. They will sooner familiarize themselves with your content. We all like that what is familiar to us and easy for us to relate to. Once your audience relate to your content, they will relate to you. In order to keep your relationship clear, keep it simple.
The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.
– Albert Einstein
Be a genius by keeping it superbly seductively splendidly simplistically simple.
Keep it simple.