Overdesign is a major customer turnoff

Design overkill. It’s out there… and everywhere as a matter of fact. Many business get caught up in adding many components to a website or a print piece that they overlook the user experience.

The first thing you see when you open up the website of Pedro and Vinny’s Pizza in Washington, D.C., is an animated status bar telling you that the website is loading. Next is a red ball that bounces up and down as text displaying the restaurant’s name juts randomly across the page. Finally, the full website opens.

From there, you’re greeted to a photo of a street scene of crowded patrons along with a list of menu options which make a loud “blip” noise when you move your cursor over them. Conspicuously absent from this experience are perhaps the three most vital pieces of information – the restaurant’s hours, a phone number, and where the place is located.

This is an example of design overkill. For most customers, a flashy animation exploding across the screen is an irritating distraction from finding out simple information about a business. This is a chronic problem among websites for restaurants and other local businesses.

It’s no wonder streamlined sites such as Yelp and Urban Spoon have become so popular. They consolidate all of the most relevant information – store hours, contact information, prices, etc. – into one easy-to-read page. Why even go to the restaurant’s website?

That is good design. To be sure, these are attractive pages, but what really makes them work is how easy they are to use. On the Web, function almost always trounces fashion.

When paying a Web designer to help build your online presence, it’s important to make sure your newly christened website is doing its paramount job of serving your customers. Whirling, twirling flash introductions may look cool and certainly take a lot of time to make, but do they perform an important function for your business? The answer is often no.

It’s often harder to design a simple, elegant website than it is to design some behemoth Flash-laden monster. A website should be so easy to understand that your grandmother can use it. Seriously!

On the Web as in real-life customer experiences, the first impression is often the most important. People logging on to websites often just want quick information, so that should be easy to find. Make sure things like phone numbers, store addresses, and general company information can be found within seconds.

Don’t let designers convince you to spend more on flashy “experiences” at the price of what people actually come to your website to find.