Marie Kondo has set the world on fire with the release of her bestselling decluttering guide The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and the related Netflix series Tidying Up, which is perfect binge watching material! Minimalism and decluttering are not new concepts, but Marie presents them as a fun, refreshing, and practical take on getting rid of things you don’t need. And these concepts don’t just apply to your home or office. They can apply to creative works as well, and that includes your website.
The core ethos Marie preaches is different from other takes on minimalism. With the KonMari method, you’re not just getting rid of things; you’re keeping only those things that truly spark joy in your life. This method can be applied to our website content. Websites are living, breathing things, and over time, they can get bogged down with outdated messaging, broken links, and useless pages.
Have you considered that your website might be a cluttered mess? It’s been the vehicle that’s helped grow your business. But does it need a refresh? Is it lagging behind, speaking more about your past growth than your latest offerings and future success? If so, never fear. Marie Kondo is here!
By applying some of the ideas and principles put forth by Marie Kondo and her KonMari method of tidying up, you’ll soon have an uncluttered website that’s clear, easy to use, and provides a wonderful experience for your users.
The Problem with Digital Clutter
Marie Kondo is revolutionizing the way we think about decluttering and cleaning up our homes. Our physical lives and emotional states can benefit greatly by applying her approach to tidying up.
But another area of our lives is very prone to clutter, something we may not think about, and that’s our digital lives. We have computers, phones, social media profiles, multiple email accounts, and if we’re running a business, we have websites too. We’re not only consuming information at an incredible rate, but we’re hoarding a lot of it as well!
If our digital clutter took up the same amount of space as our physical clutter, we’d be up to our eyeballs in a mess.
Your website should be something you’re proud of. It should be something that’s refreshing to visit, not a destination that adds stress your visitors’ busy lives, causing them to scramble for the back button, or worse – close their browser window.
Metrics from our website analytics tools may give us misleading insights if we’re not paying enough attention. We may be studying user paths and journeys, time on site, pages per visit, etc. But in reality, our visitors are a a little lost, wading through junk, not finding what they came for, and definitely not enjoying their journey.
Your website should spark joy and endear your visitors to your business, products, and services.
With a little bit of time and attention, we can declutter our websites in the same way we declutter our homes.
How to “Marie Kondo” Your Website and Spark Joy
Below you’ll learn about some of Marie Kondo’s decluttering and tidying up principles, along with how they relate to cleaning up your website and hordes of non-essential and outdated content.
By the end of this post, you’ll be on your way to having a website that will delight your visitors and be doing justice to the team of people who are behind your business or organization.
1. Consider Your Overall Site Navigation and Menu Structure
Your site navigation and menu structure are like the foundation and frame of your house. If they are well-organized and make sense, then your pages and content on those pages will make sense too. A website that is well structured with easy, logical navigation will be a pleasure to visit.
One important note before you make changes to your website: If you do make content changes, and you want to also make changes to URL slugs (the part of the web page address that comes after your domain), be sure to have a plan in place to create URL redirects. For more information on this, contact us.
Once you’re ready to declutter your site content, it can be tempting to jump in headfirst, starting with your homepage and then diving deeper into your other pages. People often treat each page as its own island, cleaning up one and then moving along to the next. This might seem like the proper approach, but it could also lead to more confusion and result in website pages that don’t work as a cohesive unit.
When first streamlining your content, think in categories, not in pages. Choosing categories lets you see the forest without getting lost amongst the trees first.
For example, you could start this way:
- Do your key menu items makes sense and work together? Is it easy to get to a select page and then find your way back to where you started?
- Go through each page on your site and look at the H1 tags. Do the key page headings makes sense? Are they search engine optimized?
3. Make Pages Work Harmoniously with Other Pages
- Make sure you have a snappy intro for each blog post.
- Have featured images that grab people’s attention and make them want to learn more.
- Confirm that each page has a compelling call-to-action (CTA).
- Make sure you have quality meta descriptions.
- Consider working with a professional user experience (UX) designer to make sure your pages are designed optimally for a great user experience.
4. Get Acquainted with Your Website’s Personality
How does your website feel? This might seem funny, but, yes, I’m asking you to consider your website’s feelings in its current state.
Is your website able to clearly communicate with it does? Or is what it’s saying a garbled mess? Does its messaging paint a clear, cohesive story about what your organization does, how it will serve your audience, and what it wants your audience to do? Do you have content crammed in every corner of the page? Are the important elements, such as the CTAs, getting lost amidst hordes of content or images?
Marie Kondo asks us to consider our belongings’ feelings. Do you think your website is happy the way it looks today? If it was a person, would it tell a story in a logical way, or would it keep interrupting itself to tell you about something else?
A happy website is a clean and clear space that creates delight in the eyes of your visitors. It has an obvious, easy-to-understand purpose and a cohesive feel. It’s sort of like when you see someone in a great outfit, that’s totally pulled together, and you can tell that not only do they look great, but they feel great too. Your site should promote a desired intent, ease-of-use, and be intuitively simple to use.
Considering your website’s feelings might feel strange, but ideally it’ll create a perspective shift and you’ll be able to see your website in a new light. With this newfound perspective, you’ll be able to transform your website from something that’s slightly confused to one that’s articulate and refreshing for your visitors.
5. Don’t Get Caught Up in Nostalgia
Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. A photograph can bring us to tears or instantly put a smile on our faces as we’re transported into the past. Nostalgia can be brought out by physical things, just as it can be with our digital footprints.
Even if your website is a year old, it might have outdated content, photos, videos, and references to old social media and other marketing campaigns. Your website serves as a key marketing channel, but it’s also probably being used an old content warehouse as well.
This clutter can stack up and turn your website from a streamlined sales tool into a confusing mess. Often, you have landing pages, micro-sites, and subdomains running content that are no longer in use and not maintained. You may have CTAs that are no longer worthy of being acted on. Often this kind of content isn’t dealt with until you rebuild your website, switch vendors or hosting platforms, or get an entirely new site. But you may not want to wait until a major change to tackle outdated content.
In her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie writes:
“…when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future… As a result, we increase the number of unnecessary possessions, burying ourselves both physically and mentally in superfluous things.”
As we dig through our website’s archives, it’s common to get overwhelmed: Do I still need this whitepaper? Do I need that 2014 annual predictions blog? Am I still announcing an event from 2007? Finding old content can transport you back to thinking about where you were as a company when the content was created. It’s also possible to become attached to an old idea or phrase your marketing team coined, forgetting all that has come to fruition in the years since.
It’s okay to let your older content stir up emotion. But don’t let this feeling detract from what you’re actually trying to accomplish. Just because a piece of content that served you in the past doesn’t mean it still does. It’s time to curate, update, and purge.
Instead of trying to revamp older content or save old blog posts and articles with the thought that some user might find something useful in them at some point, ask yourself if it’s the kind of content that is truly useful, that brings you joy to your users? If not, it’s probably a waste and not worth keeping. Outdated content could actually be preventing your future growth by clouding the clarity of your current messaging. This also adds to your overall technical debt – meaning you now have a 14,000-page site when you only need a 5,000-page site.
6. Embrace the Joy of Purging Content
In time, the stress of clutter should be replaced by sheer joy. Even though you may have a mountain of content to sort through and edit, hundreds of photos to look over, and dozens of pages to restructure and even delete, you will get through it if you take it one step at a time.
The commitment to block off a period time for an initial purge can help a lot. This way you’ll be able to fully focus on the task at hand.
Remember, this entire process should invoke joy. After all, you’re only choosing to keep content that will be incredibly useful to your users and that will bring them joy as well.
As you review your old content, you might uncover things you initially thought were great, but might not have aged well, or aren’t effectively serving your website (or your business) anymore. That’s okay! Let the notion of joy permeate every moment of your site refining experience. Even if you’re not currently enjoying the process, think about how good you’ll feel with a clean and beautiful website that furthers the goals of your business.
7. Sort and Assign Your Content (AKA “The Audit”)
Now is a good time to reflect on the kind of journey you want your site visitors to take from the moment they land on your website. Every page of your site should have a goal. Choose existing content that will help you to achieve the goal in the simplest manner possible.
For example, maybe the goal of your homepage is to speak directly to the hearts and minds of your visitors to let them know what you’re all about. Only after this goal is achieved should you invite them to learn more about you and your team on your company page or to download a free, informative resource.
Take stock of every page on your site that’s worth keeping, down to your library of blog posts. Then, sort this content based on the goals of your site with the underlying idea of keeping your content happy.
For example, maybe you have a cluttered sidebar that has an opt-in box, a small intro, your recent posts, and links to all your social media profiles. Does this cluttered sidebar spark joy? Maybe a better option would be to get rid of your sidebar completely, and instead integrate and expand those references into other pages.
When you’re creating a content map of your existing content, think simplicity and ease of use. Be sure not to tuck incredible pieces of content away into the recesses of your website where they’re hard to find. Any content that you’re keeping is worth showcasing for the world to see.
8. Create Joy-Filled Homes for Your Content
Marie Kondo recommends a unique folding method for your clothing, which makes it easy to see all of your clothing at once. She couples the fold with the use of shoe boxes as drawer dividers, which act as special homes for your shirts, scarves, sweaters, and more. As you can see, Marie Kondo applies a high level of care and attention to everything she does – even in something as small as storing clothing in a dresser. Let’s look at how we can apply this same level of care to each page of your website.
In the step above, you took stock of all the content that’s worth keeping and you began to map out where this content will live. Now, we’re going to consider different ways to joyfully store and showcase this content.
The first approach is to create content silos. These silos are groups of related content that you can either pull pieces from or interlink with one another. You’ll want to have every single page on your site exist for a specific purpose, and the content you’ve chosen should bring that purpose to life. This can often take the shape of a resource library that contains all of your case-studies, whitepapers, webinars, and other related assets.
For example, maybe you have a collection of testimonials. You’ll want to showcase all of these on a separate testimonials page, but you may also choose to utilize one or two stellar testimonials on your homepage, product or services pages, and your about page.
Finally, think about different ways you can add joy to each page on your site. This could include a series of pictures on your about page that show your team or customers. You can also create a custom 404 page (the page that shows up if there’s a broken link or in place of select content that is no longer available) that’s fun to provide your visitors who accidentally ended up there with a positive experience.
9. Fall in Love With Your Website
As they say in virtually every self-help book, if you don’t love yourself first, who else will? The same goes for your website: If you don’t love it, how can you expect your customers to?
Think about how much your life would change if you got rid of all of your clutter and were only surrounded by things that bring real meaning and joy to your life?
Now apply that same feeling to your website. The clutter is gone, you can easily find exactly what you need in your newly organized pages – this is where you want to be.
Your website should have plenty of breathing room or whitespace, and it should only contain content that you absolutely love. Your website now gives off a sense of lightness and ease. What used to be an onslaught of information that was competing for your attention now promotes focus. Your eyes no longer have to wrestle with being bombarded with different bits of information. In essence, you want a website that is easy on they eyes.
Your website now invokes and promotes feelings of relaxation and ease, instead of the previous feelings of anxiety. By now you should be feeling hopeful. Your website is now completely ready for migration. You know for a fact that after migrating to your new system, your users will enjoy every minute of your new site.
10. Embrace Your New Style
Maybe your website has been a sticking point in your business for years. When you don’t absolutely love your website, it can end up being a negative influence on your business.
For example, having a website that’s cluttered can lead to a loss in conversions and offer a poor user experience, so you lose visitors. Instead of turning traffic into new leads and repeat visitors, your site could be causing you to lose business
Make that a thing of the past!
With your content cleaned up, old posts discarded, and content elements rearranged, you’re now ready for a website migration. Whether you’re switching to a new website provider, upgrading your theme, or building a new site from scratch, your content is ready to shine.
You have officially been Kondo-ed.
The Content Tidying & Decluttering Checklist
Preparing your website for a content migration is a lot of work. This is especially true if you’ve been running your website for a number of years. Just like with our personal effects, we tend to build up clutter over time. Digital clutter can negatively impact your digital presence.
Here’s a recap of the Marie Kondo process of tidying up and bringing joy back into your website:
- Get organized. Consider how your site nav and menu structure work to provide a great user experience.
- Think categories. When cleaning up your content, think in terms of categories, not in terms of a page-by-page cleanup.
- Make pages work harmoniously. Look at your site holistically and consider how every page works to create a better whole.
- Know your website’s personality. Think about how your website feels today. Is it cluttered and overwhelmed? How can you shift this feeling to serenity and joy?
- Run from nostalgia. Nostalgia is powerful, but it can be a trap. Feel the emotion and move forward.
- Enjoy the purge. Tidying up your website should be a fun experience. At the very least, think about how good you’ll feel with a clean and clutter-free website.
- Sort and assign. Sort any content you’re keeping. Then assign it to certain pages based on your goals and the idea of invoking joy for your users.
- Create content homes. Think of each page on your site as its own home and determine how can you make each page the happiest.
- Fall in love. Make sure you love your website, so your visitors do too.
- Embrace your style. With the content cleaning complete, it’s time to move forward with your content migration, and showcase your new site for the world.
Whether you’re cleaning up your site before a redesign or migration, or you simply feel like giving your site an overdue spring cleaning, this process can be utilized. After all, your site it often the very first impression that prospective customers have of you and your team. Make that first impression count!
Keep the Joy Moving Forward
The Marie Kondo approach to tidying up your website involves having an organizational plan, being mindful, and getting rid of anything that doesn’t tangibly add joy for you and your users.
The process of stream-lining your site content may take some time and attention, but in the same way you feel once your home is clean and organized, you’ll feel great once your site is clutter-free, and so will your visitors.
Keep in mind that this isn’t a one and done process either. The initial tidying up of your site may be the hardest part, but it’s a great way to jump start what should be an ongoing practice. You always want to be mindful of how your site content and website elements are continuing to serve your ultimate goals.