The Life Changing Magic of Great Website Design

“Does it spark joy?” This is the question on your mind if you have read Marie Kondo’s bestselling book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I devoured this book last summer and then set to work tidying up my whole house. I didn’t make it too far (because, you know, kids, owning a business, life….) but reading the book and learning about the Konmari Method has changed the way I view my house - and my work as a designer.

The lesson in the book is simple: consider whether the item in question sparks joy. If it does, you keep it. If it does not, you let it go. It is not a minimalist approach. Rather, it is the process of intentionally choosing your surroundings. The theory goes, then, that by only being surrounded by things that spark joy, you will in turn begin to live a happier life, free of all the items that weigh you down, stress you out, or remind you of something unpleasant.

Detail & Design has had several requests recently for website redesigns. As we have approached the redesign process, I have found myself revisiting many of the same principles that Marie Kondo outlines in her book. Think of your website as your house, and the text and photos as your stuff - your clothes, books, papers, and knickknacks. Now, let’s Konmari your website.

1. Tackle categories, not pages. Look at your website holistically and take inventory of what is there. Think of everything on your site in terms of categories. What purpose is this information serving? What umbrella title can I file this under? It’s likely that the same category will show up in several pages. It is important to examine the content for what it is, rather than what page it lives on. It’s possible that its home will need to change once this inventory is done. It’s also possible you’ll find duplicate information on multiple pages. Look at it as a whole picture, and then clean it up. Analogy to your home: collect all books from every single room in your house and look at them together. Do you need them all?

2. Respect what you have. Think of your website content as something that takes up valuable space - because it does! Is this content deserving of this real estate? Is it presented in a way that would make you proud? Does it reflect who you are? Or is it halfheartedly thrown together, and cowering embarrassed on on a page where no one ever navigates? Treat your content with respect and give it the placement and design it deserves. If it’s not deserving of this respect, it doesn’t deserve to be on your site - so let it go. Analogy to your home: do you have a pile of wrinkled sweaters in the back of your closet? Is that how you want to treat your clothes? If you really thought those sweaters looked good on you, would they be in that pile?

3. Let the past go. So many websites just sit once they are created. No one updates them, no one shows them any love. Before you know it, you have a dated site. It feels flat and leaves the visitor wondering if you’re even in business anymore. While many of our clients are thrilled to simply walk away from the entire site and start fresh, there are some that feel nostalgic for certain parts of the site and are more hesitant to make a fresh start. Maybe they just love that outdated logo, or think the same photo on the homepage is still working, after all these years. Save the nostalgia for late night talks with your best friend - it has no place on your website. Web design is constantly changing for the better, and your business will do well with rethinking the content and design every few months. It doesn’t always need to be a complete overhaul, of course, but your site does need to look cared for, nurtured, and certainly not dated. Analogy to your home: that box of letters from your high school boyfriend. Do you still need to hold onto the past? What impact is that box of letters having on you, either consciously or unconsciously?   

4. Does it spark joy? Ahh, the final test! This one, more than any other advice in her book, is a gut feeling. An instinct. Take a good look at your website, your logo, your marketing materials. Do they spark joy? Do you feel proud and giddy when you see them? Are you excited to direct people to your website or do you conveniently forget to mention that you have one? Your print and web communications speak volumes about you and your business. If these things spark joy for you, chances are they will for someone else too. And your business will grow. On the other hand, if a potential client comes across a dated and cluttered site, they will likely pass you over for the next person offering your goods or services - they, too, will be looking for a website that will spark joy for them. Give it to them! Analogy to your home: the vase you received as a wedding gift from Aunt Maude. You love Aunt Maude, but you do not love this vase. At all. And yet it sits, day after day, on a shelf in your living room. What would happen if you replaced it with something beautiful that you loved? Would that mean you love your Aunt Maude any less?

Long before Marie Kondo, William Morris, an English artist and writer, urged his students to “have nothing in your house you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” We suggest the same for your website. Reimagine old pages, freshen up your logo, and create a website that reflects who you are now, not who you were five (or more!) years ago. We bet you’ll find that it’ll create some life changing magic for your business.