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#4.16: The “Keep It Simple” Issue

The “Keep It Simple” Issue

1> Google: Do One Thing
2> craigslist: Skip The Fluff
3> The Right Kind Of Shopping Cart
4> Check It Out: Speak Like Schwarzenegger

1> Google: Do One Thing

In a world of crowded, cluttered web sites, Google has consistently kept their home page surprisingly simple. You go, you search, and you leave. Even when they add new services (such as searching for news or images), those new features are accessed through tiny buttons that take you to equally simple screens. Think about what Google accomplishes with this strategy — they direct you to the actions that they want you to take by eliminating all other choices. In fact, the few other buttons on the page take you to actions that make money for Google, such as how to buy advertising.

THE LESSON: More choices distract your customers. Keep it simple and send users exactly where you want them.

2> craigslist: Skip The Fluff

What’s missing from the craigslist, the extremely popular free classified ads web site? Graphics. There are none at all. craigslist gives you thousands of ads in dozens of categories — city-specific, easy to find, and usually free. And they do it without pop-ups, pull-downs, or flash animation. Fancy menus are replaced with simple menus that are clear and well organized. The site’s simplicity made it easy for them to expand from their original market in San Francisco to 23 markets — they just copied what they had without redesigning anything. The site does what it is supposed to do (and nothing else). It’s fast to post ads and it’s easy to find them.

THE LESSON: Ask yourself if the art on your site helps users find what they need — or if it gets in the way.


3> The Right Kind Of Shopping Cart

Imagine that you’re in the grocery story checkout line with your kids. Elvis and SpongeBob SquarePants show up and offer you a handful of free lottery tickets (and balloon animals). There’s a good chance you’ll ditch the cart and get in on the action. Every day web sites lose sales because they complicate the checkout process. The shopping cart pages on web sites are surrounded by banner ads (that take you to someone else’s site) and menus (that take you back to the start of the shopping process). Get rid of it all. Clean out everything from your checkout pages. Remove all the distractions. Close the sale.

THE LESSON: Don’t let anything stop your customers from giving you their money.

4> Check It Out: Speak Like Schwarzenegger

Arnold — the man, the machine, the man/machine who may lead millions. Find out what he’s really all about. Check out the Arnold Phrase-U-Lator:

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