I hinted at website plugin FOMO last week because I think it’s a very real thing. When a new lead fills out our contact form, they more often than not reference someone else’s site that they want to either look like, function like, or both.
What we work to get our clients to realize is that when they focus on their business strategy, goals + voice, their website decisions get a whole heck of a lot easier to make. Because they aren’t being made based on “what looks good” or “keeping up with the next #girlboss.”
Which brings me to my biggest pet peeve about website FOMO — website clutter.
Before we get too far down this rabbit hole, I need to share that I too have been a victim of website clutter. It happens. There’s no shame in finding yourself with a few too many plugins, theme options + ideas half-executed on your site.
You are human + likely learning about this whole business-owning-online-entrepreneur thing as you go. And in that case, when you know better, you do better. So let’s dig in.
WTF is website clutter
If you aren’t sure what website clutter is, or if you have a case of it, head to your plugins list in your WordPress dashboard. If you have more than 25 plugins installed, whether active or not, you likely have some website cleanup to do.
Or maybe you have over 80 pages on your site. While there are some rare instances in which that would be an ok amount, odds are you are hoarding old content or would benefit from a strategic plan for your site map.
That’s the thing, website clutter doesn’t happen overnight.
It’s usually the result of months or years of “trying out a new plugin” or 6 iterations later of how you structure your about page. (No one loves going to domain.com/about-6/.) Building up a collection of plugins, pages, themes + more happens little by little until you are drowning in plugin updates + pages of pages on your dashboard.
Why website clutter is costing you
There’s no need to be embarrassed by a case of website clutter! But I do want to fill you in on why this problem is costing your business, big time.
For starters, the more “stuff” you have on your server, the more it’s going to impact your site speed. This is especially true for plugins + images.
When a plugin is running on your site, it likely loads at least one script or file when a visitor comes to your website. You don’t need to know what a script is or does to know that having 20 plugins on your site means 20+ files are loading just for your homepage to display properly.
Guess what? Your server has to dish up all of those files — which means each site visitor could notice a delay on your site. And what do site delays do? They cost you conversions + cash money.
Maybe you have amazing hosting + don’t notice any drag from your 42 plugins — which is awesome — but can you say that your user experience is headache-free?
What do I mean by that? I’m talking about the sites that have so many pop-ups, sidebars + floating alert boxes it’s hard to even read the page content.
The sad truth is that this website clutter epidemic hits tablet + mobile devices way more than desktop. Which means many site owners are blissfully unaware of the problems if they don’t regularly view their site on smaller screens.
For example, one of the more popular requests I get is for a floating social sharing sidebar on the left side of a blog post (to encourage sharing the post on social media.) That’s a great strategy + the floating bar follows the user down the page so they can use it when inspired to.
The problem is that most of those floating bars are wider than the padding set for tablet screens + smaller. So that pretty tower of social icons you added covers the first few characters of each line of text on your blog. I don’t know about you, but that makes reading almost impossible + extremely frustrating.
This exact scenario is the number one reason that I give up on looking at a new website. And I am not alone.
The painful truth is that your pretty floating social sharing bar is of no use to you if users aren’t staying on your site because they can’t read your content. This doesn’t mean you can’t have them at all.
But it does mean that you need to either know how to make it look good + readable for all screen sizes or hire someone that does.