In casting about for a new look for my Snowball translation memory website, it occurred to me that not only is there a pretty fine line between information and overload, many sites these days are so far over that line it's hard to say just what it is they're trying to tell you. If it gets too bad but I'm still pretty sure there's some useful information hidden in there somewhere, I'll set the view to "No Style", and, as they say, voila. Now why couldn't they have done that in the first place?
Sure, it's great to have a powerful GPU and be able to view all those amazing animated colored shapes, but if the actual information content is still the same, doesn't that mean the signal-to-noise ratio is actually going down?
So, what to do for my own website? Snowball is my tool for translators that's designed to provide as much useful information as possible, as unobtrusively as possible. Doesn't it stand to reason that my web design should reflect that image as well? Now who can I emulate that has a website with maximum information and minimum window dressing? Let me see what I can find on Google.... Oh. That was easy.
OK, now for the information. What message can I present to potential customers in the 50 milliseconds before they click away to some other site? If that's all the time I've got, it's tempting to just make one big, friendly button that fills the whole screen and says "Buy Snowball!" But for those who stay longer, I ought to have links to downloads, tutorials, testimonials, user groups, and other interesting blogs and sites. But should I structure it in a grid with a soothing background, or throw everything down in a clickable collage? Or should I just list everything down the page, like a list of Google hits, in order of importance, with no style? Will I get feedback from enthusiastic visitors - "Wow, your site really rocks - it's got no style at all!"
What do you think? What do people get from your website - information or overload?