Mission Statements and Tom Cruise

In the movie Jerry Maguire, Tom Cruise sits up all night writing a “mission statement”. It outlined his core beliefs about what he believed in for the sports agent business he was in. It is a great scene from one of my favourite movies.

I have been in the web design business for nearly 10 years and during that time I have redesigned this site countless times, often chasing some new feature or some slider or some widget that showed how clever I was.

A few weeks ago I had my Jerry Maguire moment as I stripped the website down to a super simple site. Here are the reasons why I did this and the site is lacking in any of the whizz-bang of many sites you visit.

We are all in a hurry these days.

I started reading an excellent book on the Vietnam war recently (I love history). I found it difficult to concentrate on more than a page at a time. I blame TV, apps, phones and the distraction economy we live in.

When someone visits a website, it is a fact that they are already looking to leave as their hand hovers over the back button. We all want to find what we need quickly.

People who visit my website want two things: to get a quote and to see my portfolio.

In fact from my analytics, many site visitors barely glance at my portfolio. So they visit, fill out the quote form, and leave. All in seconds. I have won business from people who have NEVER looked at my work. They just trusted that because I show up high in Google (through a lot of hard work) that I am worth dealing with.

I used to have smart icons, slideshows, and long paragraphs of text. But from analysis and tracking programs like Hotjar I saw that when people came to my site they were looking quickly for the contact link or my phone number. So now on my site that is the priority. Everything else is unimportant.

Now you may say – “Hey you are a web designer your site is your chance to show off how good a designer you are…”.

I strongly disagree.

Since I changed my site the number of emails I get asking for a website design quote have improved by about 20% as people visit, see the GET A QUOTE link, and send me an email. No fuss, job is done, move on.

Now I am not saying that every site should be as bare-bones but a simple user experience beats complexity every day in my book.

That is not to say we are all simpletons looking for single-syllable sentences (not a bad idea for readers!). We do want complexity, we do want detail. This site has a lot of sub-pages I use for marketing and SEO that don’t appear at first blush. They are equally simple but I have worked to make them easy to read through well-chosen fonts and spacing. All sites should be like this in my mission statement.

I am no Tom Cruise, nor no master of the mission statement but I believe strongly that User Experience should revolve around simple and fast, not complex and flash.