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Why simpler website design can be effective

Websites don’t need to be complicated to be effective. Learn the benefits of simpler design and check out a few real-life examples.
By Meghan Graham
Digital Marketing Manager

When it comes to building websites, it doesn’t have to be complicated

Avril Lavigne, punk-pop queen of Canada, once asked, “Why’d you have to go and make things so complicated?” Little did we know she wasn’t talking about angsty teen love… but rather she was offering a scathing commentary on overly fussy web design.

Well, Avril, things have changed. And we’re here to prove that designing effective, eye-catching websites doesn’t have to be complicated at all.

For one thing, the appeal of simpler websites to users has been quantified! A 2012 study by Google looking at web design discovered that visitors determine a website to be “beautiful” or “ugly” within 1/50th to 1/20th of a second. Now, that’s what you call a snap judgement…

What’s more—“visually complex” websites tended to be consistently rated as less beautiful than simpler, more minimalistic sites.

Aesthetics aside, here are a few more reasons why simpler can be better when it comes to website design:

  • You provide a better user experience  
    Anybody visiting your website should be able to find exactly what they want easily. If your design is too complicated or cluttered, it can leave visitors confused as to where they need to go next. Most folks don’t have the patience for a tedious online scavenger hunt.Oh, and simple websites will tend to load faster, too. Especially when you don’t need to render large, complex graphics or animations.
  • Simplicity leads to more conversions  
    It’s true! In addition to your site looking better, it’ll be far more effective at funneling visitors towards a clear call-to-action and convincing them to convert.
  • Your simpler site will perform better on mobile devices  
    Let’s face it—most people are likely going to visit your site from their mobile device. And simpler website layouts often lend themselves far better to smaller screens. Again, if things are too crowded, it can be difficult for mobile users to click buttons and navigate to where they want.
  • Simple can mean easier to build and maintain  
    When building your own website, you can go one of two ways: tackle it yourself or hire someone to do it for you. But if you do decide to build on your own, going with a simpler, stripped-down layout can save you a lot of time and frustration—especially if you’re a newbie to web design.

Simple website designs to inspire 


Cows, a proudly Canadian ice cream institution, serves up nothing but sweet treats and good times on their site. You’re greeted with bright, vibrant images that invite you to browse their flavours, merchandise (Cows beach towels, anyone?), highly addictive Cows chips—and more. There’s no confusing menu system, and no over-stuffed pages of content to be had. Rather, they let their well-chosen imagery—and a rotating selection of social posts—set the mood.


Public transit and parking app HotSpot makes a striking first impression with a clean red background, intriguing (and simple) call-to-action and an image of their app in action. Scroll a little further, and you’ll find clear, concise explanations of how Hotspot works, benefits and further calls to action. Along the top bar of the home page, you get easy access to their “about us,” section, technical support, pricing info and more. All in all, it’s quite fitting that a transit app’s website ALSO helps you get from point A to B easier.


Beau’s All-Natural Brewing Company’s website design more or less emulates their approach to beer: simple, pure ingredients and bold flavours. They cut to the good stuff straight away, with a large, attractive banner image of their latest featured beer, a witty description and call-to-action that takes you straight to their online shop. Scroll down, and you’ll find their current beer selection and an interactive “beer finder” that points you to the nearest Beau’s. Who needs Google Maps, right? Overall, Beau’s site is memorable and dripping with their slightly off-beat personality.

Grace Design

Grace Design’s website instantly transports you to the great outdoors with their handcrafted bohemian bags in tow. Their “about us”, the nature-scapes and colours that inspire them, and the bags, of course, are weaved together in a way that feels like a journey rather than a sales pitch. With a few striking, professionally shot images and concise copy, Grace Design can tell you everything you need to know about what sets their bags apart within the first 30 seconds of your visit. Sometimes you can win ‘em over with pure style!


Prince Edward County’s own Kinsip House of Fine Spirits keeps their site uncluttered while putting a selection of images pulled from their Instagram feed front and centre. This immediately creates a feeling of warmth, hominess and camaraderie. Combine that with a short, snappy “about us” blurb, and you’ve already set the tone without any additional bells, whistles or chaser needed.

There you have it! Examples of simplicity and effective design to get you inspired for your own creation.

Once you’re ready to dive into the building phase, be sure to search and register your perfect .CA domain name with us, and then pop over to our handy guide to each of the major web building platforms!

About the author
Meghan Graham

Meghan Graham is the Digital Marketing Manager at CIRA. She brings over 10 years of experience in marketing and communications in non-profit, technology, SaaS, and UX. She has a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Ottawa joint program with Algonquin College.