Simplicity is the key to avoid being complicated

My C-Panel to my hosting site is starting to get more and more complicated. This is inevitable if they keep adding on more facilities and applications to make their service better (and justify their price increases).

When I first started using their C-Panel it was simple and easy to use (even so it took me a bit of a while to get my head around what all those icons meant and whether they applied to me). But as the years progressed it became, to me, more and more complicated.

But isn’t it still simple?

But to my hosting company they probably continued to think it was simple to use. That’s because they look at it everyday, understand what all the icons mean and how necessary the added applications should be to their clients. But when the ordinary person off the street is confronted with all these icons the first reaction is to think ‘What the…!”

This is a big problem for expanding and successful businesses, how to keep what you show to your clients simple and clear, without complicating the issue and missing out on what you think are important elements.

Offer less choice or an explanation

One way to overcome this problem is by dividing a website into separate compartments, with the initial view providing a limited amount of choices. Once visitors have selected the one that appeals most to them, this need to lead onto more selections to hone in on their search or make available the options that could be helpful. In this way they are suitably and gently guided through the website to let them find what they want or need.

But going back to my complicated C-Panel and all its icons, it’s important to remember that not everybody relates visually to instructions or directions; words are also needed to clarify the situation. This may be difficult in a crowded C-Panel where space is at a premium, so perhaps a key would be useful to identify what the icons mean? With added explanations so people can understand what each application does and whether it would be useful or not?

And never assume

I was told never to assume your customers understand what you mean – just because you know and comprehend what’s in front of you doesn’t necessarily mean others will too. Instructions need to be implicit, clear and practical, constructed so they are easy to follow and covering every scenario without undermining the reader. A bit like my WordPress tuition courses! So don’t make your website or business too complicated, or your prospective clients will just turn away.

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Alice Elliott writes the award winning Fairy Blog Mother blog for beginner and post-beginner bloggers to “explain things really simply” about blogging and WordPress. She provides simple, easy to understand, highly visual courses and tutorials using ordinary, everyday words. Visit her new Beginner Bloggers blog to find her latest learning resources.