Too much design on a website

January 27, 2016 8:46 am

Sometimes, there is such a thing as too much site design.

We’ve all seen it when we browse the web. The increasing frequency we see website’s become over-designed; becoming cluttered with too many features, content, widgets, that distract from its actual purpose.


I have no idea what this site is about anymore.


Sports news… I think?

Lets take a hypothetical example to illustrate this – say we built a website for a food truck that makes sandwiches. Quisk Sangas™ coming to Adelaide in 2016! 

What would the primary purpose of this site be? Where the truck is, when it will be there, and how much the food costs. We’ll be available at Victoria Sq from 11am today. Get the Quisk Ham and Cheese Sanga™ for $8. 

The web design should focus on these, making them obvious and legible, whilst also maintain an attractive look. But based on about 10 years of experience of building websites, I can tell you that the site could potentially have the following:

  • Over using effects purely for eye-candy
  • Over emphasising to facebook/twitter/instagram/linkedin/tumblr
  • Trying to cross-link to “relevant” articles
  • “Have your say” feedback forms
  • Popup windows that ask for your subscriptions
  • Forced Member/Club sign ups
  • Using PDFs for content
  • Aggressive advertising
  • Branding dominating over legibility or functionality

All of these might seem like good ideas, and maybe in the right context can serve a purpose. But if we use too many of these, it can distract the user and dilute what people are actually trying to do. Bloat like this kills websites, making them slower to use, and worst of all it also makes it harder for actual customers to get what they want. It is insensitive to visitors needs.

I see the problem mostly comes from lots of different places:

  • Fear that the web design is too “empty” – the desire to fill up space with “stuff” 
  • Projects with too many people giving input – “too many cooks” syndrome
  • Original goal of a site is lost over a long project period
  • Not enough research understanding what the purpose of the web design is

It’s both simple yet incredibly tough to stop these issues from occurring. The best approach is to carefully consider new ideas, to keep focus on the objectives of the design, and to not be afraid to say no.


Categorised in: Web Design

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