Balancing Information with accessibility
Many web designers nowadays are so concerned with sticking to a sleek and attractive aesthetic, that they forget that their website has a real function that it must perform. Especially with the recent popularity of minimalism in design, more and more websites are becoming more austere in their furnishing. However, while it is important to declutter and be visually appealing, compromising simplicity and functionality is a bad idea.
There are two extremes of web design which must be considered. The first is a website which is so inundated with links, information, numbers, dates, graphics, and names that it is difficult to use. The oversaturation of information means that anyone looking to find something will have to sift through this massive ocean of content. The best place to hide a grain of sand is a desert, and anyone looking for a specific piece of information in this website will have difficulty figuring out where it might be. Even if it is available, it might be several unintuitive clicks away. So, you can’t merely dump all of the information your visitors will want and expect them to be able to find it. More likely, they will throw their hands up in frustration and attempt to find it elsewhere, or simply give up.
On the other end of the spectrum is a website which is so devoid of excess content that navigating it again becomes difficult. In an attempt to remove clutter from the website, a poor designer has now covered up all potentially useful content or information with a striking (but useless) aesthetic.
Unfortunately, there is no easy formula for designing a website which avoids distracting clutter, yet includes information. This will depend on the exact customer profile of persons who will be visiting the site. What will they be looking for? What is their tech background? Thankfully, this is an area that examining visitor data can help with. For example, if you see people visiting your site, clicking around your product page for a while, and then exiting the page before then reentering on the page for a specific product, it is likely that your built in search functions have been performing poorly, causing them to choose to use a third party search engine to navigate your site. This can be dangerous, as searching for a specific product might expose them to competing brands or alternative products.
At the end of the day, it is important that you keep your customers in mind when designing your site, and make sure that everything they are looking for can be found with minimal effort.