Can You Take “Less” Too Far?

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To follow on from my “Getting Clients Involved In Less”:http://www.onedegree.ca/2005/12/08/getting-clients-involved-in-less post, I thought I’d share what I’ve done with my corporate site at “schafer.com”:http://www.schafer.com/.
My site has gone through many changes in the just under 10 years I’ve been running it (the site will be into double digits in January). It shrinks and expands in direct proportion to the clarity I have around what I’m offering my clients.
Usually when I introduce a new service or change what I’m doing, I end up adding more to the site to make sure people understand the new stuff we’re offering. But after a while I realize that most of what I was saying didn’t really matter and could be done away with. Then the site starts to shrink again.
A few weeks ago I launched a new version of the site – probably the sparest iteration since our “hello world” page a decade ago. It’s four pages long. The logo is the only image on the site. Nothing dynamic, web 2.0, Flash-enabled, or even particularly exciting.


I like it – but then again I’m already sold on my services so maybe I’m not the stereotypical site visitor we should be building for!
I guess I have a bit of a concern that *this might be too much less* – that I’ve taken out something that a new prospect would expect to see – that I’ve created a disconnect that will cause potential clients to pause and think twice about using our services.
This is a particularly sticky situation because our primary services are helping people make “their Internet strategy smarter”:http://www.schafer.com/trustedadvisor/index.html and “their web site better”:http://www.schafer.com/expertreview/index.html. So if I’ve done a bad job on my own site, I’m not going to get a lot of clients.
So here is the issue. I think this site is a fine example of getting the job done with less, which I feel is a critical skill these days. But will clients – who probably haven’t thought about the benefits of simplicity – look at this the same way I do? Or will they see it as an underdeveloped site where they were expecting brilliance?
Your feedback on the site is welcome. Take a look at “schafer.com”:http://www.schafer.com/ and let me know – did I take minimalism too far?

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8 thoughts on “Can You Take “Less” Too Far?

  1. carey

    Ken, I love the site, but I also appreciate less (even though my own current site does not yet reflect that fact, but soon will). You want to convey your expertise and credibility with your site, and make it easy for someone to contact you. You accomplish those things. I see a predicament–people who appreciate less is more may not need your services (not sure), while those who REALLY need them are still probably cramming as much as they can onto a page. Maybe on “Your Web Site, Better” page, you should link to some results of some of your work. Or maybe give a “before” and “after” of your old site?

  2. Ken Schafer

    Hey Carey,
    Thanks for the kind words. I thought about putting up examples (the old site images of sample pages) but in the end decided to ask people to contact me to get a fairly complete sample – 27 pages – rather than putting up little bits and pieces.
    Testimonials and a few examples probably wouldn’t hurt and would likely be appreciated by visitors.

  3. David Crow

    Less is more. Site looks great. My only suggestion is that putting the main content links as navigation, to help match the web site architecture pattern that most users are accustom to, e.g., About Ken Schafer, Services -> Strategy, Services -> Expert Site Review, Contact Us. The goal is to maintain the minimalism, but to put the information in a framework, structure that typical customers are used to.
    PS I love it. Makes me think that I will just flush out Brant Street – http://brantstreet.ca/ a little more.

  4. Lynda Chiotti

    I liked it, but then I’m a print person anyway. When you rely solely on print, your language must really deliver (then again, even with images, the text must shine). I wondered about the services you actually deliver. Where you are explicit, you inspire skepticism — 250 pages guaranteed, no matter what the site under review is like? I’d rather offer more info for those who are detail hungry. And the typos MUST be fixed. I saw two, so I was looking for the third one, as one does …

  5. Ken Schafer

    Hi Lynda,
    Thanks for the feedback (and for giving me the typos off-line). The site has been updated.
    You are absolutely right about typos really diminish the impact of a site. One downside of blogging so much is that you get used to putting everything out there without a formal edit.
    Thanks for giving me one!

  6. Ken Schafer

    Hi John,
    Very good point! I’ve been very proud of my umlauts (even though some people think it is some kind of heavy metal thing) and I’ve worked hard all my life to make sure that they were included in any official version of my name.
    But now with the Internet I’ve realized that using the “a with two little dots” was causing me SEO problems. So I sprinkle a few of either format to try to get the best of both worlds, but you’re probably right that it looks a bit schizophrenic.

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