April 29, 2013

Website and blog design: best sites are clean and simple

It is long since we talked about blog design (website design by implication). In this post, we’d talk about how important it is to keep the design simple and how great companies are going about it.

Judgment first, discussion later ;) . It helps in numerous ways to keep a website or blog clean and simple. It helps navigation, reduces clutter and so allows the viewer space to breathe and reduces his / her chances of getting irritated, keeps viewer focus on the most important thing you want to say, and yes it tells the viewer that things are straight here and he / she will not likely be misled.

Simplicity and cleanliness go together but are not synonymous. A simple design is the one that does not have too many elements and the elements are not too sophisticated. You have not used too many shades and hues, effects, cute buttons, smart apps, advertisements in the garb of news, etc. The visitor finds in one or two clicks what he or she intends to find. In short, simple means 'not complicated'. 

A clean webpage has elements arranged neatly, a lot of white space, similar elements grouped. It highlights what needs to be highlighted and keeps all else in the background. It is readable and does not have too many colour schemes [unless the theme really demands so]. Clean is 'uncluttered', 'not unclean'. 

Great websites choose to be simple and clean

Microsoft homepage

Let’s have a look at websites of iconic tech companies. Tech, because it is in these companies’ blood to be looking at webspaces of their own and others and innovating new concepts.

Microsoft. On the first page itself, they want the visitor to know all their latest developments. There is a slideshow and big thumbnails on their products. But beyond that, the site is clear and clean. 
Apple homepage

Apple. This company sells the best in computer hardware and supports it with equally sturdy and usable software. The site is spotlessly clean and showcases just one product. Far better than Microsoft.

YAHOO! Its website is a traditional Indian bazaar: showcasing everything on the earth. It has a lot of [rather useful] stuff; it’s very newsy; it’s localized to the place of the visitor; BUT it is extremely cluttered. 

The search site of Yahoo is  clean and simple; excellent! And it sells a part of the space well.

Google. This tech giant seems to have simplicity and cleanliness at the core of its heart, at least when it comes to web design. 

 Look at GoogleGmailBlogger and Picasaweb homepages. Google has left a large space around the utility on offer, and not used it for any advertising. Mind it, the webspace available on the Google search page is the costliest web property and Google can make billions selling this, but Google has all along avoided this.

Yahoo and Yahoo mail homepages juxtaposed

But in the case of YouTube, Google has lost its charm: it has turned greedy and mixed-up. 
There is a huge advertisement and thumbnails of myriad sizes. 

We have learnt that Google has a design team of dozens of top-notch professionals; besides, there are teams for each vertical. In all, Google has a hundred times more and bigger brains looking at design as compared to individual / team bloggers and small websites. Yet, they sometimes come out with lousy designs and end up doing repairs after the design is out. Of late, their commercial instincts [There are numerous professionals working on the commercial side, led by one of the Google co-founders, we are told.] prevail over the simple design concepts they've applied to Google, Gmail etc. 

A collage of Google website homepages. Colorisation is for contrast only.
If you argue that Google must monetise all its web-property, and that all these thumbnails on YouTube serve their purpose, you win; but we suppose that the spirit of Google loses here, and perhaps Google loses due to this clutter / crass commercialisation more than it gains.  
YouTube homepage

Well, we can go on analysing more and more websites, but should leave that to you. Just have a look at the websites of Samsung, LG, Nokia, GE, Facebook, Twitter, US Government and other giant organisations and make your own opinion whether it serves to be simple and clean or not.

Indian Top Blogs has no intention of promoting or hurting interests of any company mentioned here. The analysis is for better understanding of web design. 

You can browse all our posts on website and blog design here.