Why less is more in web design

Just like a crowded environment, a crowded website means your user cannot focus properly, nor can you communicate what you are trying to get across to them effectively.

A website which is created with your customer in mind, so with the main focus around improving customer experience, will help turn a user into a returning customer.

A study by Google showed that website visitors judge whether a website is aesthetically pleasing in between 1/50th to 1/20th of a second. And that websites that are visually overloaded are almost always rated as less aesthetically pleasing than its competitors.

So in other words, less is actually more in web design.

But why is this? Well, it has to do with cognitive fluency and visual information processing theory (don’t worry, we will explain what all these mean).

The basis of cognitive theory outlines that the brain likes to think about things that are easy to process (so basically nothing too complicated).

This is why we may tend to visit websites we are familiar with, over and over again; because we know where everything is and what actions we should take.

For example, we are familiar, generally speaking with, as shown in this website;

  1. menu sidebars on the right-hand side of a website
  2. online retailers have large images and attention grabbing headlines
  3. company logos on the left-hand side of a website

Visual information processing theory outlines that websites that are less visually complex, are actually more beautiful to the user because our eyes and brains don’t have to work as hard to decode, store and process information.

We can simply sit back, and gaze at a beautiful website which is easy to understand.

Less information = less over-worked users


The better experience a visitor has on your website, the more likely they are to return to your website over and over (linking back to cognitive fluency).

Adding white space (space between features on your website, but doesn’t actually have to be white) improves comprehension for users by 20%.

Less information = more focus on the important stuff


A less cluttered website means your visitors can focus on the key points your are trying to get across to them. Whether that be a product or service, your business values, or your blog, a simpler website puts more focus on these.

Less information = more focus on call-to-action


How are your website visitors supposed to work out what CTA you want them to take, or where they are located on the webpage?

The CTA must stand out, otherwise your conversion rate may be low.

Simple is better for processing


Our eyes convert visual information into electrical impulses which then get sent to the brain. These little electrical impulses transmit colour and light information.

If there is more visual information, our eyes have to do more work, more electrical impulses are sent to the brain, and the brain basically has to work a lot harder.

If you want your website to engage your users, improve their users experience and turn them into loyal, returning customers, then less really is more.

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