I recently returned from a visit to my favourite city, New York. One of my favourite places within my favourite city has always been Times Square. Within hours of arriving I usually head to Times Square for a social post photo and to breathe in the buzz of the city.
This time was different.
I found the bustle too much. Too many people in Elmo suits looking for tourists to make donations in exchange for photos, too many hawkers shoving brochures towards me, too may protesters. And, yes, too many moving billboards all vying for my attention. It was a mess.
I couldn’t wait to get out of there. It was exhausting and I didn’t want to stay. I felt much calmer and centred in the open spaces of Central Park. In the park I could think, there was scope, I could meander and discover.
My experience in NYC got me thinking about websites. I often visit websites that are a little like being in Times Square. There are videos, dozens of links, animated gifs as ads, popovers, drop downs, moving sliders, ‘buy my widget’ requests – so much STUFF. So much noise.
I know we at HerBusiness we are guilty, guilty, guilty of a busy website. Since we moved to a ‘newspaper style’ website and added advertising as a revenue stream, our site has become busy.
Interestingly, I remember being in a class with marketer Seth Godin about 10 years ago (coincidently, the class was in New York). I had shown him our home page (of a version of our website about four generations before our current one) and asked for feedback. It was a daylong workshop where we got handson feedback. I remember him giving me the feedback that he wasn’t sure what I wanted the visitor to do. There were too many options.
Hmm… seems I’m a bit slow to learn my lessons. ;-)
I’m on a mission to simplify. To get really focused. To deliver what the visitor came looking for.
While I loved Times Square I now prefer Central Park… kilometres (or is that miles?) of green and trees and the ability to drift at my own pace. I still get lost (got lost in Central Park just last visit) but I know that there are key landmarks that’ll get me back to my hotel, to a safe place.
I want my website visitors to feel safe and that they know where doors will lead them. That’s where I’m headed.