Making your web site weigh less

Like most people, I've made the mistake of overdesigning a web site a few times.  It's easy to do.  You can get excited about the possibilities and forget that most people who come to your site really don't care what you're up to.  They're just trying to find something.

How do you make it dead simple to give people what they want as fast as they want?  And then how do you help them do more at that crucial moment when they are highly engaged with your content?

I think the first question is harder than the second, but there are some new answers to the problem.  Jon Udell might be on to something with his Metadata Explorer UI.  When I saw how simple it was to dive into topics and then surface back out with just simple intuitive clicks, I started wondering why you wouldn't just make your home page more like that.  We've all learned that publisher's search engines always suck.  Exploring through data this way makes much more sense.

Then once you've helped someone find what they want, how can you incentivize them to add value to your content, to share it with others, to find more things like it, to come back again?  The little action buttons like the ones on my blog here are helpful to people.  (...more info on Yahoo!'s buttons here:  Giving people related stuff to click on is smart, but there's an art to that.  There's an interesting method for using to create related links at InfoWorld.  And Feedburner has added a new FeedFlare API that allows publishers to add lightweight interfaces within items of their RSS feeds.

People have learned how to use more complicated user interfaces on the Internet, but I find it fascinating that people still gravitate toward the simplest interactions.  I like the idea behind CNet's cluster cloud with each article, but I never click on's too heavy.

Publishers are always thinking about their next redesign.  Maybe instead of adding functionality, your next redesign will have less functionality.


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Making your web site weigh less