Fast Company

Design: Say Hi, Then Back Off

Homepages. You either love them or hate them as a designer and if you are a person in management you probably love them because you get to tell the world a million and one things about your company. To some there is a belief system that your homepage should say everything about your company. To others there is an understanding that the homepage should give a clear message and then help guide your audience further down your site.

It's hard to tell which is more successful, but let's look at a couple of examples from each side.

Less:

More:

All six are successful websites and no one is to say that one type of design is more effective than the other. However, can you think of the one clear message provided by Yahoo, AOL or eBay? Their designs tell you a million things about their companies, but your audience only needs to hear one to make a clear decision and gain an understanding of what you are about. Going over those sites and looking at them from top to bottom, once you get to the bottom can you even remember what type of information was provided at the top? Users love information, but give it to them how they want it, not right off the bat.

When you introduce yourself to someone do you speak for five seconds or five minutes? Your website is your introduction and conversation to your audience so say hi, then just back off. They will appreciate you more for it.

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7 Comments

  • Design7

    Insightful conversation here! I have designed websites for ten years, and have come to realize that for most businesses, the website serves two functions: 1. Provide useful information. 2.Make an introduction. Effective websites are good communicators!

  • Paul Scrivens

    @Jason: Are we talking about the whole site or just the homepage? If anything the homepage was greatly slimmed down to deliver a simple message and to guide the audience further into the site. Instead of tossing a ton of content at once we give them the option of how they wish to take it.

  • Jason

    Well actually, I feel like 9rules's new redesign has made it more intense and more confusing. It's definitely straddling the line between Apple and Yahoo. Don't get me wrong, I love 9rules, but it can no longer claim it has a clean and simple design. It can still be beautiful.

  • Paul Scrivens

    Indeed another good example Elaine. Just give me a search box for finding new domains and I would be good to go.

  • Paul Scrivens

    That is exactly correct Bob. The object is to draw them in further, not scare them away sooner.

  • Bob

    I couldn't agree more. In the end your site should be about conversion; conversion can mean sales, service or some other desired action. It's customer experience management where less is more.