How Many “Bells and Whistles” Does Your Website Really Need

I have been going through another one of my “things”. My life can be chaotic, if I allow it to be and I really don’t want that, especially as someone who used to have big anxiety issues. I still need to work on focus and using my time more wisely in my business and life. A huge part of that is trimming the fat, right?  Well, I spent a good part of the weekend really looking over my website and deciding what was REALLY necessary.
Plug ins galore and so much clutter! Ugh. I kept hearing the little voice in my head yelling  Keep It Simple. So, I thought that I would share some things with ya from not only a designer’s point of view but also as a viewer.
Do you know what’s effective on your website and what’s overkill? Do you know what features and functions your audience responds to and what turns them off? Many websites go overboard. They utilize every bell and whistle available. The goal, presumably, is to provide a great user experience. Unfortunately, they end up accomplishing the opposite. So…
OK, so the fancy objects flying in and bouncing around sure look spiffy (yeah, I said that) but do they serve a purpose and make you MONEY?
This may sound incredibly dull. Every single feature on your website needs to have a proven function and purpose. Sometimes that’s not so easy to identify. Generally, if it doesn’t help you achieve your goal then it’s best to get rid of it. Here’s why:
* Most bells and whistles distract from your overall goal and purpose. For example, if you want a visitor to make a purchase then a flash graphic is generally nothing more than a distraction.
* Most bells and whistles slow your website down. A fancy graphic or internal program slows down the upload time. If it takes too long for your site to upload then you’re going to lose potential visitors. That’s certainly not good. If your website doesn’t upload in a matter of seconds, ten or less, it’s time to shrink files and eliminate heavy graphics.
* Most bells and whistles don’t offer tangible value. Think about it for a moment; what value does a fancy website graphic add to your customer’s experience? What value or benefit do they gain? If the answer is nothing, then get rid of it.
An add-on feature or function is good when it adds value to your visitor’s experience. For example, a social networking feed can be superfluous on some websites. However, if it helps build your following and create a community it can be a good feature. Some bells and whistles make sense.
Decision Time
So how do you decide if a website feature is relevant? How do you know if you should keep it or eliminate it? Ask yourself the following questions:
* Does it enhance your visitor’s experience?
* Does it help you achieve a business goal?
* Does it slow down your website upload time?
* Does it distract?
If you’re unsure, consider testing and tracking the data. Install the feature and then review the data. Take a look at how long people remain on your landing page. If they spend less time on your page, then the new feature may be the reason.
If possible, test the feature itself. Are people interacting with it? What do they do once they’ve interacted with it? If people are staying on your website longer with the new feature, what action are they taking? Are they buying more? Are they signing up for your opt-in list? Are they reading more content?
Some bells and whistles offer value. They support business growth. Know your audience, your goals and the purpose of each add-on feature. Pay attention to the data.
So, take a look and comment below about what you can do without, got questions? I can help:

Comments +

  1. It’s a good idea to ask these questions from time to time. But it’s so hard to kill my darlings!

  2. This is a great post! I’m always trying to make sure my sidebar isn’t too cluttered, because all it does is take away from what you’re writing. Plus, I know how crazy it makes me when I go to a blog and keep getting a bubble pop up asking me to subscribe to the newsletter or follow on FB. A lot of times, it makes me navigate away because it makes it hard to read the page. Like you said – if it’s not helping your reader’s experience, it needs to go.

    • Yep, I am not saying to totally ditch all plug ins because some are just necessary for your site. Every once in a while, I get so many going on that I want to try out and go to my site as a visitor and ugh. Sometimes, being in the dashboard, we forget to go to the front of the “house” and check it out. lol

  3. Elaine Springer Griffin says:

    I have been meaning to clean up around my homes, and just haven’t had the time. These are all great points. Looking forward to sharing!

  4. Clairellyn says:

    So much good food for thought! I’m currently working on revamping my blog, and there will definitely be a lot of “extras” that just have to go (particularly sidebar extras). Thanks for the advice!

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