On WordPress, there are literally thousands of plugins and possibilities that you can add to your website. Social widgets, calendars, contact forms, everything adds a little more to the site. But, in this case, more is certainly not better. Though some stuff is helpful and good to have, a lot of of stuff is just unnecessary. It not only builds up visual clutter, but it slows your site down as well. Here are a few things that you can cut out to save time and space.
With all the different social networks out there, and the plugins that are available to display them right on your website, a lot of people fall victim to overcrowding. Website owners install plugins for Facebook that display a page right in a little window, so users can like without leaving the website. Twitter widgets display a feed of popular tweets for users to browse through. Though these things seem useful, they’re all pretty ugly, and have a lot of links and content that it’s impossible to coordinate with your site design. Not to mention they are just busy and add to the clutter.
It’s my belief that if a user wants to follow you, they will look for your social links, click through, and follow you. Having the like or follow button right on the page won’t make them any more likely to do so, it will just clutter the page and make them want to leave quicker. If you’re currently using social widgets, think about how much cleaner your site would look without them, and whether you feel they really do help to grow your followers or not.
Huge Header Image
Sometimes people feel the need to create specialized header images for their websites. This was a popular style a few years ago, where large header images filled the top of almost every website you came across. But today, a custom header image is not necessary. A simple logo is all you need to identify and define your website, and it’s so much cleaner. If you’ve got a custom header image that’s big and bold, think about what purpose it’s really serving, and think about how much cleaner your site with look if you just had your logo there instead. If you’ve got a large image, it’s also taking up a large portion of your Above the Fold content, and you should be optimizing that space rather than wasting it.
Too Many Menu Items
The menu bar is one of the most important parts of a website. It holds all the important links of your website and gives the user a location they can rely on to find what they’re looking for. For this reason, people always feel the need to crowd as much stuff as they can into it, and that’s a mistake. Tonnes of links with drop downs and multiple layers is just too much. Not only does it clutter your site visually, but it effects the user experience because it makes navigating the site more complicated. Here are Four Links Every Blogger Needs on their Navigation – but beyond that try to keep things straightforward and simple, and your user will thank you.
Monetizing your blog is great, and is one of the reasons a lot of people start blogging these days. However, making money should never compromise the look or content of your blog. Just like you wouldn’t write a good review about a bad product just for the money, you shouldn’t but an ugly ad on your beautiful blog just for the money. It hurts your credibility, and doesn’t feel great, not to mention it just looks awful! There are so many different monetization strategies out there that you shouldn’t have to choose one that harms the quality of your site. If you use ads, take a look at them and try to think about what a user is really seeing when they scroll through your site, and whether the money you get from them is worth it.
Just like people feel the need to clog the menu with lots of links, people think of the sidebar as a dumping ground for images and content. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great place for some strategic content, but too much content is bad. Remember, if people want to know something, they will look for it. Make it easy for them to find, but don’t show them everything on every page. Just like on my site how I have a small about blurb in the sidebar. It links to my full about page. It’s there to provide some initial info, and I know if people want to know more about me, they’ll click through and read. The sidebar is a great place for social links, category links, and changing promotions or new posts. But, if your sidebar is scrolling way past the rest of your content, you likely have too much stuff in it.