One of the more noticeable changes in my recent blog redesign is that there are way fewer elements than ever. The 2.0 version of the blog before was probably the most cluttered design I ever had and even though I really, really like it, I realized that there really isn’t that much use for most of the elements in there. Heck that design even had 2 sidebars in it and a bunch of free space to play with.
I’m not sure if bloggers are aware but minimizing some of the elements is really the way to go. I would use this blog as an example. Before, I used to have so many elements and widgets on the sidebar, footer, header and etc. For instance, I had those recent readers widget, that mini navigator plugin, a bunch of list of links and a whole lot of redundancies (duplicate elements etc.). Then I evaluated, am I really using these elements? Do I benefit from putting some of it here and there? Or am I just wasting some space?
Obviously the easy answer is yes, I’m just wasting space. A recent reader widget is nothing but a widget to show some flair, a mini navigator plugin is a redundancy since users can navigate themselves using the menu bar, excessive number of ad zones also harm since no one’s really buying them. Aside from that I looked at my stats using a bunch of my tracking tools and I saw that users don’t really use most of the elements that I put in the blog. The behavior of most of my readers is that they check out a post or two and then comment and then leave. No one’s looking at this, no one’s clicking there and etc.
To add to that, I looked into my Google Webmaster Central and saw that my blog’s loading time is really slow (as slow as John Chow’s blog, lol). Those things have strongly convinced me that a change is needed.
Cut Out Some Elements!
So that’s my advice to you. Look, as an average web surfer/reader/lurker, we can only do so much on one’s site. I occasionally go to NBA.com but do I really use all of their features there? No, but NBA is an exception since its a large website and is widely visited by a lot of people all over the globe. But us bloggers? I know we all want to keep people browsing and staying for awhile but trust me, that’s not the way to go.
Another factor is loading time which I mentioned above. I live here in Asia and I know our internet here is just sub par comparing to countries like say US or Europe. If you have all those elements and 50% of your traffic is coming from a country that has a mediocre internet connection then that would give a bad user experience.
If those factors still don’t convince you then just remember the things I mentioned above. You have this, this and this in your sidebar and this in your footer. Ask yourself a question. What is this for? Do I benefit from it or does my readers benefit from this? Does it fit in well with my branding and stuff like that? Why not run some advance tracking tools on your blog to see if your readers are really noticing and using those things?
Believe it or not, I still feel that I need to remove some more elements here in this blog. I need to fill in some spots (dang I have four subfooters!) but I have to balance that with what I want and what I don’t want.
Lastly, look at some of the cluttered popular blogs around. Most of them made some redesigns recently and one thing to notice is that they have undergone a major revamp by removing things that they no longer need and by putting up a cleaner design. How about you? Are you ready to cut down the clutter and excess?