Omit Needless… Everything

A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.

“Omit needless words” – an elementary principle of composition in The Elements of Style is a rule so universal that it pours out of verbal into not only physical but digital space as well.

Nowadays setting up a website is so easy anyone can do it. All necessary tools are either free or dead cheap. You can buy a domain for $10 per year, hosting for a few dollars per month (although you shouldn’t go that low if your site is of any importance to you), premium, “do-it-all” WordPress theme for $50, a bunch of free and possibly some commercial plugins and you’re set, right? All you need to do is select domain name and hosting company, handpick the theme and plugins.

Overcoming Paralysis by Analysis

Yes, it is easy to spend days, if not weeks tweaking your non-existent website’s link colors and fonts. You can read countless contact form plugin reviews long before anyone ever knows you have a new website.

There are so many things you can add to your website that are either free or next to free but none of those will, or should, ever be core of your online presence. Instead of spending your valuable time picking things you’re not sure you’ll ever need, how about focusing on defining and fine tuning message you’d like to deliver to your audience?

What if none of the technology was available to you and your website was hosted by your notebook and the only tool available was a pencil? If you started with that, carved a perfectly clear message and only then added presentational layer to it.

If someone held you at gunpoint and gave you one minute to list what is necessary for your website to function there’s a good chance you’d do a better job than if you had all the time in the world. You certainly wouldn’t spend a week trying to figure out which slider plugin you should buy.

Focus on What Truly Matters

Having poor copy and unclear message is something no fancy plugin or theme will ever be able to overcome. Does your About page clearly explain what your business is about, in a way that everyone can understand? If not, what difference will expensive team members photos make?

Or how about your homepage and those five slides? There’s a basketball saying that goes something like this:

If you have two starting caliber point guards you actually have none.

If you have five equally important messages occupying your website’s premier real estate how many will your audience take home? To stick with basketball quotes: Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five…

I’m not saying every page should be about one thing only. But starting with one clear message and then either expanding or tweaking it is better than cramming poor pages with as many calls to action as they can take, expecting people will take their time to process them all AND make a decision. They don’t have time for your indecisiveness. Neither do you.

Slobodan Manic
I love working with WordPress and doing it the right way. Themes and plugins I develop have a common #1 goal: Keeping it as simple as possible for users to publish their content.
Slobodan Manic

@slobodanmanic

CTO at @sejournal. GAIQ. Tweets mostly about web analytics, productivity and WordPress.
A Perfect Long Weekend in Porto - WSJ http://t.co/RXPWChSQlb - 1 day ago
Slobodan Manic
Slobodan Manic
Slobodan Manic

Latest posts by Slobodan Manic (see all)

6 thoughts on “Omit Needless… Everything

    1. Thanks Stefan!

      There’s a design principle I learned in architecture school that says form should follow function. It can be applied to software development as well.

      With so many tools that help you tweak the form, it’s so easy to get carried away and forget what your website is all about. Flashy sliders may be cool (they’re not), but if you don’t focus on the message, your website could end up like a hospital that looks like a bus station :)

        1. You can send your two websites using using our contact page. I always like to see Cazuela in action.

          Once we gather several websites using it, we may include some of them on the Cazuela download page.

          And thanks for the suggestion.

Comments are closed.