Nobody likes cluttered sites. You may not know what makes a cluttered site, but your customers definitely know when they’re trying to navigate one. There are flashing ads that give them a headache, tons of links with vague titles, social media ad-ins overwhelming the site, and a sidebar longer than the Encyclopedia Britannica.
And in all of that, your potential client is supposed to find that one blog post, or a list of services, or how you’ll change his business for the better, or even find the About page?
I don’t think so. That person would sooner go to another writer’s site that doesn’t make his brain hurt.
I’m sure your website isn’t nearly this bad, of course. But there are probably some extra things cluttering up your blog that are distracting your readers and customers, possibly confusing them.
Certainly it’s not making it any easier for them to find what they’re looking for: how to hire you.
So why don’t we go through and see if we can’t make everything a little neater. You’ll have a site that readers can navigate easily and you’ll probably get more clients for your business out of it as well.
Break Your Widget Addiction
Widgets are one of the prime offenders when it comes to loading a site with unnecessary clutter. There are thousands of widgets, with new ones hitting the market every day. They’re so cute or clever or interesting that you just can’t help adding just one more to your site.
Six months later, you have widgets for social media, for the weather, for tracking your stats, for news, for keeping track of the average rainfall in Guam, for your live goldfish cam, and all of them seemed like great ideas when you put them up there.
It’s like buying a shiny new toy. Eventually, all your toys are in a giant pile, and they make it near impossible to get through your site.
Be ruthless. Get rid of every single widget that does not have a solid and related use for your blog or business. If it benefits readers or customers, keep it. If not, then it’s just making more clutter for them – which makes them not want to stay.
It’s like having a messy room. Maybe you know where everything is, but the mess just makes it unpleasant for your guests. Since the whole point of having a site is to have lots of guests want to stay for a long time, it’s time to clean up your room.
Keep the toys your guests like to play with, though. It’s only polite, and they won’t think of them as clutter if they like to use them.
Clean Up Your Ad Space
Ads are a necessary evil for many blogs and sites, but that doesn’t mean they have to clutter up the space. You need the ads for income, but the way you generate that income is by lots of visitors viewing and clicking on those ads.
If your readers and viewers think of those ads as annoyances, they’re not going to want to click on them, which ruins the whole point of having them. No clicks, no advertisers. No advertisers, no income.
So de-clutter your ads and make them more appealing for your guests to click.
Two to four ads, three products at most, and perhaps five links in lists are the maximum number you’d want. You should have them neatly laid out, too, so that readers aren’t startled by stumbling across them in strange places.
Make sure those ads are attractive, too. The easiest way to make ads register as clutter instead of helpful suggestions or recommended resources for visitors is by having ugly ads that just look cheap or silly on your site.
Flash ads are the worst offenders. Avoid flashing banners, animated gifs, and pop-ups. They’re good for grabbing attention, but if you think about it, so are mosquitoes. No one hangs around long when the mosquitoes are annoying them and wrecking a good time.
Don’t Take the Standard Option
We’re big fans of WordPress here at Men with Pens, but every WordPress default installation comes with a few widgets that you can definitely do without. Those extra widgets may seem handy at first, but in general, they’re useful to you, not to your readers.
Some prime examples of widgets you could consider removing are the Meta widget, the calendar, link lists, blogrolls, archives, categories, and pages, as well as any tracking widgets you have. Unless there’s some specific reason why your site needs one of those widgets (there may be a good reason to have a calendar for some blogs, for example), get rid of it.
You can create pages that only you can access using all these widgets or variations of them if they’re handy tools for keeping track of things on your end. However, unless your readers find them useful, get ‘em off your site. Create a cleaner, more friendly space.
Now that we’ve gone over a few ways to clean up your blog, how does yours measure up? Could it stand a little spit and polish?