Friday, March 14, 2008

Webdesign and efficiency: The great example of craigslist

"L'habit ne fait pas le moine". This is a well-known French quote that means you should not judge people by their appearances, especially when they look nice.
This quote applies perfectly to the Internet domain. When someone wants to develop a website, he always wants it to be eye catching, very nice, with a lot of visual effects. Their mindset is: "if I  have a website to represent myself on the Internet, it should be as fancy as possible, to impress visitors". They think that a website is a media that allows to create multimedia marketing pieces, and therefore they should use the latest technologies to dress up their sites. But to be honest, that would be a mistake.

The main fact is that the overall look of your website is really not what matters to a website. The main asset your website should have is simplicity. This is exactly what Steve Leung was talking about yesterday at his work shop.

There is two main reasons I see why you should do so:

1 Sear Engine Optimization
Google likes ugly. I say that because Google does not really like images nor Flash media. This is something everybody wants: Flash presentation, because they look nice and allows you to stand out. But first they are slow to download, secondly, sometimes depending on the version of your web browser they don't show up, and lastly Google has problems to read through them.

In order to get the best search engine rankings, you need to allow Google to go through the text of your page, and thus, you need text more than fancy flash media.

2 Readers love simplicity
It is important to set up your pages in order to let your visitors navigate easilly. Don't overwhelm them with presentations that don't bring added value. The visitor is here to find information, and he will stay if the information is easy to access. Therefore you need to have very clear information. Also, talking about information, don't try to overcrowd your website, thinking that it should become an encyclopedia. This is not the purpose. Because the more information you have the hardest it is going to be if you need to up date it. And as was saying Steve, "a website is up dated when it is out dated". I am pretty agree on this, especially while speaking about informational content.

The example of craigslist
The best example is for me craigslist. Craigslist is probably the ugliest website, but it works, and it works good. Little did I know about craigslist when I came here in California, but the website is the reference for personal advertisement in the United States. And why does it work? Because it is simple! It is fast to download, the information is presented clearly, and navigation is easy. Moreoever, it doesn't even have a logo! Which is an aberration for a marketer. But it works perfectly, and is a powerful search engine optimization tool.

Therefore, my main advice if you want to edit a new website or up date your website: keep it simple, very simple.

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1 comment:

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