Over the years of building websites we’ve seen some beautiful ones – amazing artwork, custom designs and dazzling animation. Of course, we also know these pretty websites come at a cost – anywhere from a few thousand to over 20k.
And then there’s the upkeep.
Due to the complicated nature of these websites, both in the type of technology used and the level of customisation, it becomes too much for the average person to make even simple changes. Conveniently, the website company that built the site also offer a service to maintain it, but it’s not free or even reasonably priced – expect to be paying anywhere north of $150 an hour.
For some businesses who have a website that generates significant revenue this might be an acceptable return. But if you’re a small to medium business that’s just looking for an online presence but doesn’t want to go bankrupt doing it then consider the benefits of a simple business website.
We do simple business websites
The $299 price point of our Standard website package means there’s not a lot of room for adding too many bells and whistles, so it’s fair to say we’re fans of the simple website. Then again, it’s not just our opinion. A number of studies have confirmed the benefits of simple sites, and we discuss their findings in more detail below.
Our $299 website is perfect if you’re looking for a simple business website – it’s customised enough to match your branding (colours, logo and font style) but with a standard layout that keeps the whole thing easy for visitors to navigate.
So, if you decide after reading this that a simple website is what your business needs then you’re in the right place.
1 – Cheaper to build
Think about it like building a house. What’s cheaper – a standard house build off a set plan or a one-off unique design you came up with yourself? Obviously, by sticking to a standard format, you can save a lot of money in design and development costs. Going for something completely unique, you need to factor a lot of extra time for design concepts, design iterations, testing across all devices, different browsers (including backward compatibility hacks for older browsers that can’t handle your fancy new CSS!) and screen sizes. You should probably also be doing User Acceptance Testing (UAT) for a completely different User Interface (UI) to make sure visitors can accomplish basic website goals.
Sticking with a pretested layout simplifies and speeds up the development, design and testing process, and that can save you big dollars.
2 – Cheaper to maintain
Using a conventional format for your website means it will be more familiar for website administrators to make changes or updates.
It’s the difference between owning a Toyota Corolla and some obscure European car from the 80s – when it comes to repairs, spare parts or regular maintenance you’ll save a lot sticking with a simple, well-known design and build.
3 – Easier to make bigger changes
It’s not just easier to make minor updates but a regular design and a simple website are easier when it comes to looking after things like transferring to a different hosting provider, downloading backups or adding new functionality like an ecommerce shopping cart.
Smaller file sizes (theme files and artwork) and less variation of design elements can save you time and money when it comes to making those bigger changes.
4 – Less irritating
One of the key findings of the study was that websites that are very unique and different from the norm disrupt cognitive fluency. This describes how your brain prefers interacting with things that are familiar (think of the frustration you feel when you have to find something in a strange supermarket or operating an unfamiliar microwave – where’s the go button??!).
The more we are exposed to certain standard layouts, the more we start to prefer them (the exposure effect) and whenever we encounter something that deviates from this the more likely we are to perceive it as ugly or a ‘poor user experience’.
5 – Load faster
A well-built simple website will generally load faster than a site with a heavily-customised design. There’s just less for the visitor’s browser to load. Usability experts, such as Jakob Nielsen, are famous for having very basic websites that enjoyed blindingly fast load speeds.
It’s not just usability experts and visitors on slow connections that will appreciate your faster load times – Google have also indicated that they give preference to faster websites in the search results, particularly for mobile users.
6 – Faster to build
Speaking of speed, a simple website can go from zero to hero in a matter of days, compared with weeks or months for a complicated design. Providing you have everything we need (see the checklist on our website) we can turnaround a simple website in 5-10 working days.
This short lead time is ideal for businesses who need a website or landing page in a hurry. In our experience, it also means it’s more likely the business will launch the website in a timely fashion, as protracted website projects (typical of complex designs) often extend over many months, even years!
7 – Less distracting
As tempting as it might be to use flashy animation and bleeding-edge design, you may be shooting yourself in the foot, distracting visitors away from the primary goal of your website (clue: it’s not to entertain with blinking multi-coloured borders!). Too much design can end up obfuscating your main call to action, burying it under fancy artwork.
What you want users to do (complete a form, buy a product etc) should be blindingly obvious (bad choice of words I know). To that end a very simple layout, colour scheme and flow will guide that horse to water, helping visitors to stay on track and convert successfully.
8 – Builds trust
Simple business websites that conform to an expected layout (known as prototypical) help visitors feel comfortable and this engenders trust (which is key to selling online). Things that are new or unfamiliar often result in an automatic wariness, with visitors mindful of phishing scams or similar that vary from the norm (like a counterfeit note).
By sticking to the tried and true formula for website design and layout you help to reassure visitors, putting their minds at ease and keeping them comfortable with something that meets their expectations.
Building trust will also help with our next point – converting visitors.
9 – More likely to convert
Just because it’s number nine on our list doesn’t mean it’s not important. In fact, it’s probably the most important thing, the reason your website exists – to convert visitors. With a simple website your visitors have a much clearer, uncluttered path to the conversion goal.
In the article cited above there’s a case study of a tie store that switched a more conventional, prototypical design and saw conversions increase by 13% (up 70% on iPhone). Part of the reason for this uptick in conversions has to do with how the brain works, described below:
On a “low-complexity, highly prototypical website,” the five to nine “chunks” of working memory can process things like guarantees, product descriptions, prices, or offers—rather than wasting time figuring out where to click.
A simple website can help reduce the strain on the brain so they can focus on buying – it’s as simple as that.
So as much someone in your business is pushing for a “beautiful” website, don’t forget the real reason it’s there, and that’s to sell your stuff. Don’t let design get in the way!
ps if you need help setting up your website to track conversions or setting up goals let us know!