Is a Simple Website Still Effective?

Recently while teaching a workshop on website maintenance,  one of the participants questioned me on the need to maintain their website.   The business owner explained that they had a small website with a small business that doesn’t change.  Initially, I questioned how likely it is to have a business that survives over time, but never changes? But we run into this a lot with business websites –  it is often  difficult for business owners to come up with enough content about their business to fill a website,  even a small one.  Usually I don’t accept this as an excuse.  Often times businesses have plenty of content that has already been created, more than they might realize.  After my discussion at the workshop, I really started to question; is it possible to get away with having a simple website?

Define “Simple” Website

What qualifies as a “simple” website?   You could look at this from a couple of different ways:

  • Simple in size  –  Creating a website that only displays a few pages.  Some would consider a small website less then 50 pages,  but from our workshop discussion,  we were referring to sites of less then 10 pages.
  • Simple in Design – A another term for this might be “minimalist”.  If you search for website templates,  there is a whole category for minimalist websites.   This means that you have a very simple design,  just a couple of colors,  few elements on the page,  shorter pages.  Typically these designs can be accomplished with just website code and contain very few graphics.
  • Simplify Your Conversion – This would be a website created to accomplish one thing, and just one line.   Sign-up for a free trial,  buy and download,  register for any event.   An activity that could be accomplished start to finish on the website and didn’t require a large time commitment.

For the purpose of this discussion,  the simple website we are referring to is simple in size,  a website made up of only a few pages.

Can a Simple Website Perform?

I think it could.  But not without work,  so if the idea of having a simple website is to avoid putting a lot of resources into the site, that’ s a terrible assumption.   To keep it simple,  you would need to pack really high performing content in a few locations.

Conversions –  If you are planning fewer pages,  those few will need to convert as well as lots of pages would have.   You still need the same number of business leads whether it comes from 5 pages or 500.  I think you will need to stick to one very strong call to action, because you won’t have a lot of real estate to reinforce it.   So you will need to spend time testing and finding out which call to action is going to produce the level of business that you need.

Be Clear about the Role – How you judge the success of the website will need to be based on the website you have.   A smaller website would work better for a quick sale or to grab the attention of a new lead quick.  But if you need investors to research your company,  you need customers in a long sales cycle to review or complete information or need to provide resume material to backup RFP submissions,  it will be much more difficult to provide the information needed with just a few pages.

Set Marketing Expectations – With fewer pages,  the time a visitor spends on site will be lower, less to see.   Repeat visitors will be tougher to get,  especially if they can see everything in the first visit.   Organic search traffic will be harder to get,  with less content, less opportunities for keyword ranking.

Cautions before you choose a Simple Website

Simple does not equal Cheap.

Back about 7 years ago,  when Cybervise was first starting out,  we would bid the cost of a website based on the number of pages that would make up the site.  Due to the fact that each page would need to be built individually.   Even the early content management systems worked this way.   However,  with the new generation of Content Management Systems,  like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal,  creating additional pages is just a matter of a few clicks.  If you are thinking that a smaller website will reduce your cost,  know that number of pages in a website is no longer a factor for new development.

Simple does not mean Autopilot

Just because you are small does not mean you are allowed to go stale.   Old information is not good for your visitors and lack of new content will completely take search traffic out as an option.    Having fewer pages will mean less to update,  but I still find it hard to believe that there is nothing going on in your business and you have nothing new to talk about.

The good news is;  if you have a simple website that performs well,  you have an excellent foundation to continue to grow.  So if you want to start simple,  go ahead.  If you do it right,  I bet simple won’t be enough for long and you won’t mind putting resources towards the website because that website is growing your business. Interested in learning more about our Website Maintenance Plans? Contact us for a free consultation and we’ll be happy to help  you select a plan that’s right for your business.