If You Need More Darned Clutter on Your Site ...
You've probably heard this one before: When you're trying to get a visitor to your site, you should be screaming for attention. While they're on your site, you should quietly let them shop.
The shouting stops at the entrance. Nobody wants a bazaar while browsing. At least, in theory, nobody wants a bazaar.
However, is this something we should all take a closer look at? After all, nobody will ever, ever, accuse eBay or Amazon.com of being quiet or clutter free, but they are go-to web experiences for millions upon millions of people. At some point, even people who are trained in usability ask:
- Why is that?
- When is it acceptable not to have quiet experiences online?
When Navigation Isn't Critical
We're big proponents of keeping things quiet while people are on your site, minimizing the cognitive load. That's also something the biggest usability training firms like Nielsen are keen on. Within usability communities, this is going to be fairly common practice, fairly widespread advice.
However, that advice does not apply to YouTube. YouTube can, and does, get pretty cluttered, and plenty noisy. Yet people flock to it just the same. The obvious answer is that the YouTube brand is so strong that it's synonymous with viewing videos online, and that's a valid point. But there's also something else that at work — nobody navigates to find their video.
The second most used search bar, after Google, has been YouTube for quite a while. When search is the most commonly used tool, the primary navigation elements and the page content can afford to be noisier. That's certainly the case for eBay and Amazon. Their categories pretty much cover anything and everything, so having zero navigation clutter may be too much to ask.
Tim Ash is the author of the bestselling book Landing Page Optimization, and CEO of SiteTuners. A computer scientist and cognitive scientist by education (his PhD studies were in Neural Networks and Artificial Intelligence), Tim has developed an expertise in user-centered design, persuasion and understanding online behavior, and landing page testing. In the mid-1990s he became one of the early pioneers in the discipline of website conversion rate optimization. Over the past 15 years, Tim has helped a number of major US and international brands to develop successful web-based initiatives. Companies like Google, Expedia, Kodak, eHarmony, Facebook, American Express, Canon, Nestle, Symantec, Intuit, AutoDesk and many others have benefitted from Tim's deep understanding and innovative perspective.
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