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What to Do When Your Homepage Priorities Go Off the Rails

Stephanie Fisher

Posted by Stephanie Fisher on 3/15/16 9:30 AM

bookshelves-homepage_1.jpg

You step into the cereal aisle of a grocery store and feel like giving up being a "breakfast person." You peek inside your incredibly crowded closet and decide to stay home in your pajamas rather than pick an outfit. You walk into a library and leave without a book.

I'm talking about the dilemma of too many choices.

I was at my local library the other day, browsing through the mystery section. I wanted something new, but nothing stood out and I quickly gave up looking.

Then, I walked to a beautiful display shelf. On the shelf were pictures of staff members and regular patrons, with their names, hobbies, and favorite genres. Next to the person's picture was a book or two that they recommended. 

I spent several pleasant minutes looking through the book recommendations, relating to some and finding new books and themes I hadn't even considered before. It was really helpful! The design limited my choices.

Simplifying Isn't So Simple

The library scenario happens when a visitor lands on your website homepage.

Do users experience the fight or flight response? Are they overwhelmed by clutter and too many choices?

Or, are they ushered into a calm space, where they easily find answers and recommendations?

It's a not-so-simple simple matter of planning and limiting choice.

"Everything is Important"

Often we hear this phrase during initial website planning meetings, or even down the road when departments and board members get wind that their thing isn't on the homepage. If it's not on the homepage, how will people find it?

You must resist the pressure of adding "one more thing!"

Everything is not equally important and you have to have clarity around what is.

A pleasant user experience takes intentional planning and thought, just like the library display example. Whoever designed that shelf knew what it felt like to walk into a library and leave without a book.

Likewise, do you know how your users feel when they land on your website?

In a rush to get everything on the homepage, you may clutter it up and produce the opposite result. Users can't find anything and click away from the chaos.

Prioritize

First things first, come up with a concise list of your homepage priorities. What are the top 3-4 actions your user will want to do when they land? Ask: What do they need, rather than what do you want them to know.

During our blueprint planning phase, we make a list of homepage priorities. Homepage Priorities lists everything that should be present on the homepage, from the very obvious (Logo, Navigation) to the featured items that users are looking for. Listing everything makes it clear: You can only pack so much into this space, and no more.

Here is an example from a client:

homepage-priorities.jpg

Here is the final result. The Feature and Feature Listing were identified during the blueprint process as the top two priorities for users: Learning about services/what they do, and viewing the newest listings of equipment for sale.

WoodTrussHomepage.jpg

Relate to this frustration of keeping your homepage nice and tidy?

Review your homepage and navigation. How does it look on a tablet or phone? Is it easy for your users to find what they're looking for? Maybe it's time to reprioritize your homepage. Let us know if you need help!

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Topics: website, content management, corporate website design

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