Update Your Website : Using Minimalism to Improve Speed and Usability

October 12th, 2012 by | 2 Comments »

Because just about everybody is on a broadband Internet connection these days, site designers have become bolder about including sizable elements in websites. These include videos, complex animations, very large images and complex page structures. Unfortunately, for some users, these elements do slow down their computers quite a bit and make websites load more slowly. Given a choice between a fast loading website and your slow loading website, most visitors are going to choose the fast site. Here are some ways to speed yours up when you update your website.

Check the Code

Have a web developer look at the code that underpins your website. This is particularly useful if your website has been online for a long time and has had many alterations made to it or if your website was worked on by several different designers over the course of its lifespan. A designer may be able to go through and find code errors that will cause the site to load more slowly or that will cause certain elements not to function correctly.

Use Images Wisely

Before you start plastering images into every available spot on your site, make sure you’re doing it for a reason when you update your website. Adding images for visual appeal can be very effective, provided you do it intelligently. The image should add something to the user’s experience. If you’re putting too many images up, you’re likely slowing down the speed at which your website loads and you’re merely creating distractions for your visitors rather than giving them something particularly useful.

Clean Up Your Navigation

Navigation does not speed up the speed with which your site loads, but it certainly makes it much easier to use and makes it quicker and easier for your visitors to find their way around. It’s not a bad idea to review your site’s navigation structure, to have it changed where it is outdated and to eliminate pages that no longer serve a useful purpose when you update your website. Part of maintaining a site is taking out what doesn’t work anymore, as much as is adding elements that make it better.

Revisit Flashy Features

If you have a lot of animations or other elements on your site, reassess them when you update your website to make sure that they are worth the space they take up on your page. Some sites will benefit greatly from animation and other enhancements. For example, if you ran a news site, having a feature that automatically ran a slideshow of images that go with your most important stories would be useful. If you ran a used car lot, pictures of your newest items for sale might be useful in a similar configuration. If you run a site that has to do with literary reviews, however, animation may not be particularly useful and may just slow your site down. The investment you would put into having animation redesigned could be put into a different design element when you update your website that would be much better for your readership.

New Technologies

HTML5 and CSS3 are the latest, greatest things in the web design world. They include advances that allow you to make sites faster because of how they load animations, control layouts and other features. Talk to your web developer about updating the technology that underpins your site. Sometimes, some of the things you may have wanted that weren’t available when you had your site designed initially will prove to be available when you are ready to update your website because of advances in technology. Likewise, some of the elements on your site that are slow and clunky may be able to be re-created in a way that makes them leaner and faster loading.

Redesigning a site can be as exciting as designing a site for the first time. It can be even more so, in some cases, so be sure to talk to your designer about your options when you update your website.

2 thoughts on “Update Your Website : Using Minimalism to Improve Speed and Usability”

  1. You suggest that we clean up image, navigation, animations etc. Shouldn’t we also clean up content?

    Thank you, you mention lots of usable tips here.

    george

    1. You bring up and excellent point! It’s usually a pretty big challenge for clients, but one that should definitely be considered. Succinct content and good design often go hand in hand. Thanks for the comment.

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