The Journal is a new monthly mailing list run by Kevin Rose, entrepreneur, investor, and currently the CEO of HOODINKEE, the world’s leading wrist-watch magazine.
The page is very well designed, and while this isn’t a website that I worked on, it’s one that I really liked. I think it offers a strong lesson in the power of simplicity, which virtually every business owner can benefit from when it comes to their website.
First notice the functionality. There’s no superfluous stuff. There’s no blog, no “About” page, no downloads, no slideshows, no pop-ups, or social media, or anything. There is nothing to distract from the website’s main goal, which is to collect email addresses.
This is the power of a clearly defined goal. Understanding exactly what your outcome is helps you to skip a lot of the fluff that many online marketing gurus are spinning these days. This is as complicated as a website needs to be, when you understand your goal.
Keeping a website simple means lower costs, and less maintenance. It also means that viewers are more likely to take action, since there’s nothing to distract them from what you’re hoping they’ll do.
But just because it’s simple, that doesn’t mean it’s simple. There’s some really smart design going on here too.
To begin with, there’s the copy. In just twelve words, Rose sums up everything people want to know before signing up for a mailing list. He tells you what it is (a monthly newsletter for the curious) in a way that literally forces you to be curious. He also tells you who’s running the show, and how often you’ll receive mail.
Below the signup bar you get a little re-assurance about the SPAM policy, along with something that’s super important: Social Proof.
Humans are social animals. Like it or not, we look to others to decide how we should feel about things. By showing that there are more than 36,000 subscribers, Rose proves he’s someone worth paying attention to, even if you’ve never heard of him. He doesn’t need an entire “About” page. Two words suffice.
Even the background image seems like it was carefully selected. He could have used a picture of his face, or something technological since he’s really built his reputation in the tech field. But ultimately the image chosen was that of a far-reaching view, an image which captures the broad appeal and subject area of The Journal.
It’s been said that perfection is not when there’s nothing left to add, but rather when there’s nothing left to take away. I think that as the web becomes more and more complex, more and more overwhelming, the business owners who can keep things simple are the ones who will capture attention. Their sites will be a welcome sanctuary from the noise that’s spewing out of the click-bait, ad-driven, money machines which have become the standard in recent years.
So take a page from The Journal, and look for ways to simplify.