We all need to simplify what we do

“Ironic” is a frequently misused word, but I guess it may be ironic that on a day with a headline like the one above, those of you who receive these articles by email will be seeing a more designed layout rather than the almost plain-text one we’ve been using until now. “HTML emails”, as these are known, are fraught with dangers, as even amongst a circulation of 250 (like this blog), there’ll be many different email readers (Outlook, Notes, Googlemail, etc), and all will display the email slightly differently. The target is to design the email in a manner which should be displayed by all of them in roughly the way you want it to. It’s an issue we cover on the Insider Programme, because many businesses want to put out “HTML emails” rather than text ones for their newsletters and email promotions.

Anyway, I hope we’ve succeeded and that if you’re reading this as an email, it looks good. If it doesn’t, I’d love to know what email reader you’re using, so I can rectify the situation.

Today’s subject isn’t about email though, it’s about websites. The usability of our websites is something we could all improve on. Even sites which were designed to be easy to navigate and follow when they first saw the light of day can soon become cluttered with unexpected add-ons to the point where they’re very hard to follow. Nowadays, if you ripped up your website and started again, the designer would almost certainly come up with a far simpler, cleaner product than in the past. The commendable trend in web design is no longer to try to show off on every page just how much you’ve got on your site, but to focus on the point of the page and eliminate the distractions.

In business to business marketing this is as sensible a trend as it is in any other sector. The chances are, you know your way around your company’s website, but point a stranger towards it and ask them to find out a specified piece of information, and you’d be in for some uncomfortable viewing. We all need to simplify what we do, both to help our customers and to generate more business.

In Check Your Site Usability With These Fun Tools on Search Engine Journal there are a few tools which it’s entertaining to play with, but which are illuminating too. If they just get you thinking about where you’re going wrong, they’ll have done their job.

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