When Bad Websites Happen to Good People When Bad Websites Happen to Good People When Bad Websites Happen to Good People
Tip 1 Tip 2 Tip 3 Tip 4 Tip 5 Tip 6 Tip 7 Tip 8 Tip 9 Tip 10

Tip 4: You Want Me to Do What?

(AKA: Don’t make me multitask or I’ll hate you for it.)

Don't make me multitask (or I'll hate you for it)Back in Tip 2, we urged site owners, marketers and anyone who has a website to get to the point, and clarify their website goals. Sometimes, it’s easy to get carried away. If one goal is good, wouldn’t 10 goals be awesome?! Well, not if they are on the same page they aren’t.

Frankly, we don’t have a clue what’s going on here, here or here, but they represent a trip to the dark side, the epitome of anti-usability… asking people to do too much. Why do we ask people to do things online that we would never, ever do in a real-world setting?

Here’s the thing: Human beings HATE being bombarded with stuff.

Imagine walking into a brick-and-mortar business and being shouted at by a bunch of people.

  • The sales dude shrills, “Check out our products. FREE demo!”
  • The receptionist is demanding that you fill out a rather complex form now to get a brochure, and yes, you must provide your phone number before you can get the precious, precious brochure.
  • The CEO has launched into a soliloquy about his outstanding leadership abilities and Fortune 500 experience.
  • The customer service lady yells “FAQ!” at you, and you have the urge to holler “FaaaaaaaQ” back at her, but manage to restrain yourself.

Start screaming orders at potential customers, and, for the love of Pete (or peat, if you are one of those gardening types), we’ll resent it. We might even rise up. At the very least we will send you a nasty look and move away quickly.

Back to web design and online copy, in the immortal words of Steve Krug, “Don’t make me think.”

When someone arrives at your site from a search-engine results page, they're saying, “I’m interested.” Don’t blow it.

Stop competing with yourself. Welcome people, guide them, and then get out of the way. If we had to narrow it down to two simple things to remember it would be this:

1. Site architecture, not architorture.

Keep your navigation simple. The site architecture should make it easy to find information. Visitors should be able to happily zip about your site and access the content they are looking for. If there is something that is in the way of that happening, get rid of it.

2. When everything is important, absolutely nothing is important.

Multiple calls to action on a page are just confusing and counter-intuitive. Too many options are overwhelming, so avoid busyness/information overload like the plague. Instead, provide a clear, consistent direction.

In the end, if it seems like work, it probably is.

Don’t force your user to do too much. They really will hate you for it. Okay, that’s harsh, we admit. Strongly dislike. Feel better now?

Creative Commons LicenseYou are free to use this tip's graphic under this Creative Commons license as long as you provide attribution to When Bad Websites Happen to Good People and provide a link back to this site.

2 Responses to “Tip 4: You Want Me to Do What?”

  1. 1

    Who do I sue for eye damage from http://www.ingenfeld.de/ ?

    Good post here, when I was showcasing my own site a few weeks back, I was getting a lot of “Why don’t you add x,y &z” etc.
    It’s easy to get carried away alright. On my own site I think I actually need to drop a few more things (not add).

  2. 2

    Hum, are those example websites real? They all seem like some kind of joke… Well I guess the world is big and there is room for all kinds of crazy people.

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