Usability Tools Podcast: Home Page Design

Jared Spool

August 6th, 2007

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UIE Usability Tools Podcast: Home Page Design
Recorded: July 20, 2007 from the studios of UIE
Brian Christiansen, UIE Podcast Producer
Duration: 24 min | File size: 11 MB
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I’m very excited to announce the launch of the first episode of UIE’s Usability Tools Podcast. Each week, I will be sitting down with UIE’s Managing Director, Christine Perfetti to discuss tips and tools for improving your site’s user experience. The goal of our weekly podcast is to share some of the most important findings from UIE’s research on web design and usability.

In our first episode, Christine asks me about UIE’s latest thinking on home page design. We decided to kick-off our podcast series discussing home pages because they can play a critical role in the user’s experience on your site. It’s the first page users interact with and its design determines whether users succeed or fail to complete their objective.

In this podcast, we discuss:

» Why a site’s home page is actually the least important page on your site
» How the most successful designs focus on understanding users’ main goals and tasks
» How “link-rich” home pages can help your users find their content
» How the most successful home page designs focus on driving users to the most important content pages
» Why users spend little time on the best home pages

I hope you enjoy our discussion.

As always, we’re very interested in hearing from you. Do you have questions or comments about this episode? Do you have suggestions for future episodes? We want to know. Please leave a comment below or email us directly at mailbag@uie.com.

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19 Responses to “Usability Tools Podcast: Home Page Design”

  1. Daniel Szuc Says:

    Good listening!

    The challenge in organisations it to finding the core for the Home Page.

    What do you want it to be?
    What do you want it to do?
    How does it translate to business (whilst meeting user goals)?

    Seen far too many home pages that look to purely entertain or use too much real estate for marketing messages (that may not fit the user needs, but certainly fit the person/dept who is shouting the loudest in the organisation)

    What can help drive the right content to the Home page? What clues can we look for in organisations to help this?

  2. blog.dsetia.com» Blog Archive » Usability Tools Podcast: Home Page Design Says:

    [...] In this Usability Tools podcast, Christine Perfetti asks Jared Spool about UIE’s latest thinking on home page design. Source: [Link] [...]

  3. Bobby Hewitt Says:

    It would seem that the challenge is not only to find the core of what belongs on the home page, which should be partly defining the business goals and also understanding what users are using the site to do but also how to evangelize this throughout the company. We also need to look into how to get internal stakeholders on board with this idea to keep them from stepping on their own feet and adding too many unnecessary bells and whistles on the home page.

    Bobby Hewitt
    http://www.creativethirst.com

  4. Daniel Szuc Says:

    Good point Bobby.

    Organisations who only see the value in adding content to the home page along, may say something to where the organisation sits on the “channel maturity scale” (for lack of a better term). The home page (like other important landing pages) is really just the start of the conversation through to an end point. Organsations that see it more as conversations than broken pieces, will go further.

    More thoughts here: http://www.uxmatters.com/MT/archives/000212.php (with references to the UIE work :)

  5. John Muller Says:

    Thank you Christine and Jared. I agree that the home page is not the most important page on the site. While a front door (or lobby) will always be needed, it should not take up an inordinate amount of the design team’s time. In the case of the site I work on, the majority of our users arrive deep within our site through google, so the home page is not the page that our users see first, if at all. I can also relate to the discussion regarding balancing user needs with the “needs” of internal stakeholders. Sometimes the homepage seems like the perfect place to satisfy internal stakeholders especially when the users needs are being met by the deeper level pages that are arrived at directly through external search engines… but we have to be careful to not give too much control of the homepage over to the stakeholders. Great podcast … I look forward to hearing more. thanks!

  6. Bobby Hewitt Says:

    John,
    What would be your advice on ways to not give too much control of the home page to stakeholders? It is my belief that educating the stakeholders is the best policy. The results of a website are always a collaborative effort and everyone is to blame if it does not meet the business goals. That is not to say we shouldn’t learn from those failures and use them to improve both design and process.

    Bobby Hewitt
    http://www.creativethirst.com

  7. James Breeze Says:

    I have worked on some very large re-design projects where the home page has been a painful sticking point for many executive stakeholders. I don’t think there are any simple answers, except getting on with it and not wasting time in meeting hell.

    As Daniel says, it is about business strategy and customer needs. Also, of critical importance is the data about what people are actually doing on the site. This is a precursor to good decision making.

    - What percentage of unique users start at the homepage?
    - What percentage go back to the homepage during a session?
    - What does usability testing tell us?
    - What does eye tracking tell us?
    - What are other companies doing?
    - What feedback have customers sent in already?

    If your company doesn’t have all this stuff, something is better than nothing.

    In all of my cases it has come down to one senior person putting their foot down. You just need make sure that, as quickly as possible, they have all the right information and understanding at their finger tips. Then, they can (hopefully) make the right decision.

  8. Daniel Szuc Says:

    “Also, of critical importance is the data about what people are actually doing on the site. This is a precursor to good decision making.”

    Yes!

    You have a great win on a project if you can get everybody speaking the *same language* in terms of talking to the same criteria for design. Not who is individually right, but bringing enough insight to the table to move away from “my opinion” For example, in a “conceptual sketch and wireframe session” on Friday/Sat we were able to move the team towards speaking to different Personas instead of our own experience OR how does this meet the “Design Goals” and not our “own goals”

    Sweet!

  9. Daniel Szuc Says:

    Not related to any specific topic but more to the UIE podcast format –

    * Like the 20-25 min format for listening in the office or on a walk
    * The 1 hour format good for bus rides
    * Anything beyond 1 hour … perhaps need an accompanying slide pack to look at :)

  10. Olga Fernandez Says:

    Just a suggestion from someone who’s starting with your podcasts: why not to add somewhere in the podcast page the links to the sites that come up during the conversation?

    It’ll help us to quickly see the examples you talk about without missing the conversation (specially to those as me who aren’t English speakers).

    By the way… I didn’t understand the name of the site Jared said before mcmaster.com, what was it?

    And…thanks for sharing with everybody these chats!

  11. Homepage the least important page on your site? Says:

    [...] week, I was listening to a podcast from UIE on Homepage design. Jared Spool pointed out that the homepage is the least important page on your site. He believes [...]

  12. am Design » Baabelin kirjasto » Artikkelikatsaus: Elokuu 2007 Says:

    [...] alkaa väitellä kotisivun merkityksestä. Jared Spool väittää Usability Tools Podcastissa Home Page Design, että kotisivu on itseasiassa koko sivuston vähiten tärkein [...]

  13. Steve Fisher Says:

    I read a tidbit of news this morning that Amazon is changing their design – it appears to have been showing up to random people and from what has been said, only people with Firefox. The screen shot I saw showed an Amazon page without the categorization tabs that they’ve been known for. I’ll be curious to see what you guys think of it.

  14. Usability Tools Podcast: Mouseovers in Navigation » UIE Brain Sparks Says:

    [...] research in link-rich home pages: an article, Lifestyles of Link-Rich Home Pages; a podcast, Home Page Design; and a 90-minute Virtual Seminar, Initial Scent: The Latest Thinking on Home Page [...]

  15. Are You Focusing Too Much on Your Home Page? | ClickLogin Web Design Says:

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  16. Are You Focusing Too Much on Your Home Page? Says:

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  18. 152. War? | Boagworld Says:

    [...] uses a nice analogy borrowed from Jared Spool. He compares the homepage with a hotel lobby… When visitors arrive at your hotel, certainly [...]

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