Have you ever landed on a website and been completely overwhelmed by the amount of content on the page? Then there’s the opposite, landing on a webpage that has taken minimalism to the extreme. How did you feel in each situation?
When it comes to providing content on a webpage, you must ensure the page takes a balanced approach to the amount of content. Too much or too little content can cause a problem for site visitors and your business!
What is Information Density?
Information density is a term that refers to the amount of information content on a webpage or other interface. This is a metric that measures the amount of information to the space available. While it may seem like a headache to consider this type of metric, consider the effect it can have on onsite users.
For instance, those using mobile devices to access content may find it difficult or impossible to deal with the overabundance of labels, text, buttons, controls, and more. However, if the same user accesses the page through a desktop or laptop, they may find the information density is fine and have no issues.
Finding the balance of information density on your site’s page is crucial to getting site visitors to stay and interact. When you find the right balance, you may find the website generates more visitors, conversions, and revenue.
The Problem with Too Much Information
There’s no question that site visitors are overwhelmed when there’s too much information on a webpage. The fact is that information overwhelm can result in analysis paralysis. Rather than finding the information they need and following through on a CTA, a site user spends time trying to figure out where to find what they want.
As they go through this site analysis, they end up becoming paralysed. The outcome of this overwhelm? Visitors quickly leave for the competition’s website. The result for your business is a high bounce rate and low to no sales. Ouch!
How to Keep Information Density Balanced?
It’s up to the web developer (sorry!!) to make sure a site’s density remains balanced. If there’s ever a doubt, it’s best to use the “less is more” theory of design, which ensures that the site visitor won’t be overwhelmed with too much text, too many tasks, and actions.
First, begin by making sure that each page, as well as the site, has a plan before you begin designing. Each page should have a goal, with the information on the page enabling the user to accomplish this goal.
For this exercise, it will be necessary to put yourself in the site visitor’s place. As you consider what happens on a specific website page, it’s necessary to have a clear idea of what the user will achieve on the page, no matter what device they’re using. Consider they may be using a mobile device, tablet, desktop, or laptop. The flow of the user’s tasks should be clearly defined and easy. This means that even users who don’t often use the web can complete tasks easily.
This means a web page’s goal must be clear. It should be so clear that a visitor doesn’t even have to stop and think about what they need to do on the page. Pages of this type usually have fewer elements, which means fewer distractions for the user. The information density on these pages is manageable and creates a great user experience.
When designing a webpage, you might ask yourself these questions:
- What is the goal this page needs to achieve?
- What tasks should visitors carry out?
- What information does the visitor need in order to complete these tasks?
The right type of webpage includes:
- Clean design, with plenty of white space to help focus a user’s attention on the page goal and content
- Large, easy to find call to action
- Clear call to action button text
- Persuasive message above the call to action
- Visual hierarchy (achieved through the use of colour, white space)
The result is a clear user flow and easy to accomplish page goal. Pages of this nature keep site visitors from feeling overwhelmed and not knowing what to do next. In other words, the information density is balanced and communicates the page’s task clearly.
What About Going with Minimalism on a Site?
Some web developers believe taking a minimalistic view of webpage design is the right way to go. But is that true? Well, extremes in anything are never good. The goal is to achieve balance, even with information density on a webpage. It’s possible to have a bad UX when going the minimalistic route.
If minimalism is followed to the extreme in web design, it creates low information density. The result is that the page doesn’t contain enough information to help site visitors find what they want or follow through on the page’s goal. Their experience will be bad, leading them to a competitor’s site instead. Remember, you must put yourself in the user’s place when designing a webpage.
The Use of White Space
Some people are “afraid” of using white space to create a balance of information density. However, when used correctly, white space is one of the most valuable tools in a designer’s arsenal.
Remember, too much minimalism isn’t good. This means too much white space can cause problems. Too much white space is overwhelming on its own for many site visitors. What’s more, too much white space means there’s not enough information on the page.
There are ways to determine how much white space you need on a page:
Content: pages should not contain large chunks of text. There should be a balance between the amount of text and white space on pages. Users should find the balance of content and white space comfortable.
Design: can influence how much white space is needed on a webpage. White space in a design can focus the user’s attention on specific areas of the design.
User research: is another integral part of determining how much white space and information density a webpage requires. This will depend on the needs and expectations of the target audience.
Summing It Up: Information Density is Essential to Web Design
Information density is an essential element for web design and meeting the user’s expectations and needs. It also helps site visitors to find the information they need and accomplish the goals on each specific page.
The goal is to have a balance of information density. Avoid both information overwhelm and being too minimalistic. Each of these will create problems for the site users. However, when information density is balanced in the right way, you’ll have a successful site and increased conversions!