The web site continues to be one of the best tools for disseminating information and branded content to your audience. Some have said we are witnessing the decline of the web page, or at least the concept of a homepage, and the rise of apps.
However, with over 1,000 new domain suffixes beyond .com, .net, and .org now available, the web page seems more accessible and important than ever. For many in creative lines of work, an online presence centered around a website is key to showcasing work, tracking what interests visitors, and finding new business.
People are drawn to aesthetically appealing, user-friendly web site designs and expect to be able to engage with your brand online. Oddly enough, some of the world’s most successful people have dedicated websites, which appear to have been made on a Windows 95 machine.
Both Forbes and the Atlantic have recently called out Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway web site for its dated look and feel. Forbes went further by commenting on other wealthy business owners, including Elon Musk’s Foundation page, which is simply six lines of text.
If these two incredibly successful businesses can succeed with their Spartan web design, does UX design even matter?
UX Design: The Simple Life
The power of simplicity cannot be understated, and the unwritten rules of UX Design in 2015 support ease of use as an important tenet of a successful web site.
Berkshire’s website may only feature 15 hyperlinks, an ad from Geico (a Berkshire-owned company), and no home button, but the “lack” of design serves a purpose. The page is central to the Berkshire Hathaway Corporation, but Berkshire’s subsidiaries have much more appealing web presences.
Geico and Borsheims, which Buffet personally endorses in his “A Message from Warren Buffett” on the Berkshire page, both have modern intuitive designs. Perhaps Berkshire and the Musk Foundation are attempting to keep it simple so as not to distract from the lofty goals of their organizations and the ideals of their owners.
Warren Buffett can send out newsletters, meeting memos, and plug his own line of business from within his website. Elon Musk simply states what his foundation focuses on and lets the media inform you of his latest project.
Beyond the Simple UX Life
Though Buffett and Musk champion absurdly simple web design, they balance out their unconventional web presences with subsidiary sites and, of course, the fame of being some of the wealthiest people on earth.
For almost everyone else, a simple web design may be an accessible one, but ultimately the outward simplicity of a web page should be backed up by complex functionality.
The Berkshire website is functional, but lacks any distinguishing elements: it doesn’t even have a background. To get noticed on the web today you’ll need a sitemap, a color scheme more creative than white, maroon and red, and maybe even a drop down menu, every once in awhile.
You need functionality, you need UX.
Ultimately, the UX and functionality of your web site need to coincide with the business objectives and audience expectations. Home pages may seem to be less important, but they remain one of the most important tools for increasing your reach on the web.
The competition for search engine optimization grows every day, so make sure you distinguish your brand from the rest with stand-out UX design and quality content. Keep optimizing, keep perfecting your site’s UX and maybe one day you too can afford a website as simple as a billionaire's.