threesixtyfive | day 244

Less is More: Psychological Advantages of Simple Web Design

Most designers and marketers ask themselves an essential question: what is the key to conversion-based design?

The answer is simple: ‘as little design as possible’.

There are reasons for this. The users rate the visually simple websites higher than its complex counterparts. Moreover, highly prototypical websites enjoying a simple design are considered most beautiful.

In other words, simple is beautiful for the web world. And it converts too.

Prototypical Website

If I ask you what color represents a boy, you will invariably reply, ‘blue’. Girls? Pink. But in the mid-19th century, blue, a cool and tranquil color was associated with girls, while pink, a bright and a passionate color was associated with boys. I am sure you can’t even imagine this today.

But why?

Since your brain saw these combinations quite frequently, it has created a shortcut for future references.


This is a prototype that the brain creates in an attempt to categorize information. The job of your brain is to make sense of as much information as possible. Through the creation of these shortcuts, the brain allows to make sense of the world. This concept is applicable on website designs as well.

Copying is said to be the sincerest form of flattery and it is quite common in the World Wide Web. In case a particular layout or design works for the website of a car dealer, several other dealers follow suit within a short time. The result: a car dealer prototype; you can define this as a look that the users begin to associate with the car dealers. This exists for several website categories. There are different but specific mental images for blogs, e-commerce sites, and social networks. In case any website fails to conform to the set image, there are high chances of getting rejected by the customers.

Cognitive Fluency

The brain prefers simplicity and ease. People will prefer the websites when they instinctively know where things are and the actions that need to be taken.

This is referred to as cognitive fluency.

The e-commerce product pages are more or less the same; they include a product description, an image, the price, and a button to add the product, which you liked, to cart. If you have a blog or an e-commerce product page deviating from the normal, you run the risk of getting rejected by the users.  Thus, your goal is to make your website as cognitive as possible.

You need to know the design choices that are typical for a website in your category. This is not enough. You need to find evidence supporting the design choices too. Several designers take the wrong decision.  Some e-commerce sites include automatic image sliders for displaying products. But studies show that automatic sliders bring down the conversion rate.  Without undertaking adequate research, you are susceptible to making grievous mistakes.

Visual Information Processing

One of the best ways to make your website cognitive is by keeping it easier to process visually. The taste of each individual is different when web design comes under concern. However, regardless of taste, the visually complex websites witness less appeal. By simplifying your website, you can make it more attractive as well as appealing.

Are Simpler Websites Easier to Process?

The less complex websites are considered more beautiful; this is because the brain and eyes need not work that hard to store, process, or decode the information.

How does it work?

  • The retina transforms visual information into electrical impulses. These are sent to the brain. The impulses transmit color and light information.
  • With more light and color variations on a given page (visually complex), eyes need to work harder to send impulses to the brain. The brain also needs to work hard for translating and storing information.

The less complex a website is, the easier it is for the eyes to receive it and the brain, to translate it. Thus, we once again come back to the concept of cognitive fluency.

Working Memory

According to a research conducted by George A Miller, average adult brains can store only 5-9 “chunks” of information at a time. Our working memory is a part of the brain that stores or processes only some pieces of information. Thus, it’s invariably useful to include as little information as possible. The simple prototypical designs reduce the amount of noise entering working memory, allowing the most important elements to get stored.


What happens when you do not use a simple prototypical design? Users will store information that does not meet their expectations. You may deviate from expectation through several ways:

  • High price
  • Slow loading speed
  • Unusual layout or color scheme
  • Confusing navigation
  • Blurry images

If you deviate, these aspects get stored in the minds of the users. Thus, it’s really significant to consider the need of the targeted audience before you design your website. Undertake research. Check out on the blogs they frequent, websites they shop at, and their age and location.

If the users cannot find things they are looking for, they will never think how impressive or innovative your website is. They will simply wonder about the things that aren’t where they are supposed to be. This is certainly not the best frame of mind for the potential customers if you want to convert. You need to be strategic; keep the following points in mind while designing your website:

  • Research targeted audience
  • Put things where the visitors expect to find them
  • Avoid adding elements if they don’t communicate anything the visitors care about
  • Keep it simple and utilize white space
  • Don’t make all the aspects of your website prototypical

By keeping your design prototypical and simple, you can provide the visitors with a clear and user-friendly path to conversion.

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