View Full Version : Short Home Page Design Opinions

01-23-2009, 12:55 AM
Seeing VividColor's site link in the website reviews forum brought this question to mind.

Is it a newer trend to have a short home page? I don't have my new ecommerce site up yet. In the past I've had and still like a nav bar that's 4 col wide by 3 high with a main body and a left column that extends probably 800-900 px. Lately it seems I've noticed more and more sites that have a short--maybe 600 vertical px--home page.

Is there any advantage to a shorter home page in grabbing the customer or possibly SEO reasons to have it short and to the point like that?

Or maybe I'm just dreaming up things to post to put off things I really need to be doing. :D

01-23-2009, 01:07 AM
It really depends on your own business needs. I think the main thing most people are worried about is that most of the time decisions are made quickly by the viewer so the most important info should be placed "above the fold" - that is within the view of the visitor's monitor without them having to scroll to see it.

Some have interpreted this to mean a smaller site is better so the entire site is always visible to the visitor. Personally I do not subscribe to this view, however I do think it is important to get the most important part of your message in the upper left section of your web page whenever possible so new visitors quickly grasp what your site's main message is and can make up their mind about whether they want to be there or not. If the site interests them they will stay and scroll around to see more.

Here is an example of a heat map showing where most people look at a web page:

Examples of Eye Tracking Research from Enquiro Research (http://www.enquiroresearch.com/eye-tracking-examples.aspx)

It will give you an idea why placement of information is critical to success in how you design a web site and keeping visitors.

Hope this helps.

01-23-2009, 11:29 AM
Like Dave, I think it depends on the site. Ask yourself what's the purpose of your home page. For most sites the goal of the home page is to direct people further into the site. Most people won't make a decision to buy something or contact you from the home page. They want to know what's on the site and where can they go.

Think about who might be visiting your site and what they might want to do. There will probably be several different groups of people. For example on my site I divided things into people looking for design or development services, people looking for seo related services, or people looking for my blog. I wanted to make it easy for people to find the one they wanted so on the home page I have three sections that point people to one of these three pages. I tried to make each section noticeable at a glance and then link to the specific section of the site.

Unless your site is the one page, you don't need to write too much information on the home page, because most people landing on your home page are really looking for something deeper on the site. Just get them there as quickly as possible.

01-23-2009, 05:10 PM
I am also of the opinion that page length is not the primary issue and it will vary depending on the needs and goals of the site. I do agree with the most important page elements being immediately visible and prominent. The design of any page is primarily to "pull" the visitor in. You have approx 8 seconds before that visitor will make a decision. I agree with many others who have observed that people will read longer text if you succeed in grabbing their attention.

In most cases, I do try to make a Home page very brief, but this is not so absolute that I would not deviate from it in some situations. I recently had an exception which you would be interested in knowing was for a site that dealt with woodworking. Since most of the traffic was being generated by trade magazine ads and visitors were there specifically to get more info, this situation did not require being as brief as I normally would be.

01-23-2009, 05:35 PM
You have approx 8 seconds before that visitor will make a decision.

I heard it was 7.9924 seconds Steve but I'm not one to quibble over minor differences...

Dan Furman
01-23-2009, 05:42 PM
Believe it or not, most visitors will not scroll on the average website. Not even an inch.

This doesn't mean you can't have text beyond the bottom of the average screen - I certainly do. But it does mean that I take the "no scoll" into account - I make sure I get my main points across (and give readers a chance to get a quote) without requiring the visitor to scroll. Every website should.

Remember in 10th grade, when the teacher assigned Moby Dick (or Tale of Two Cities or some other 3-inch thick book?) And people groaned "man, I have to read all that??" That's how people subconsciously feel when that scrollbar thingee gets real small.

Now, this is for a "normal" site - I'm not talking about salesletter pages that go on forever. That's an entirely different animal, requiring a much different approach.

01-23-2009, 08:17 PM
Dan I think people will scroll now. The not scrolling may have been true a few years ago, but I think we're at the point where it's pretty common. Horizontal scrolling, no. Vertical scrolling, yes for the most part.

But I do agree that you still want your main point visible above the fold. People will only scroll if they see enough above the fold to make them want to.

Also when it comes to single landing pages, long copy still seems to work.

Dan Furman
01-23-2009, 10:53 PM
Dan I think people will scroll now. The not scrolling may have been true a few years ago, but I think we're at the point where it's pretty common.

I'm probably quoting from at least two to three years ago (and internet years are like dog years :) ).

01-23-2009, 11:02 PM
I think internet years might even go quicker than dog years. :)

I'm sure there are people who still haven't caught on to scrolling, and I do agree it's important to have your most important info above the fold, wherever that fold might be.

01-24-2009, 02:23 PM
It occured to me that no one has specified what that window is, although that itself is subject to debate. One stat I ran into that was supposed to be well researched says that the "magic" size is 776 x 424 pixels. I believe this is a good guideline because there are still plenty of 800x600 screens in use, and now we have wide screen format to deal with. The 776x424 size accounts for most computers and allows for the scroll bar and plenty of screen garbage like aftermarket toolbars generously supplied by software programs.

01-24-2009, 02:38 PM
Interesting point Steve. I've been looking at the stats for my sites and I find (at least for my most trafficked sites) that well over 97% of the site visitors have monitors in excess of 1000px wide. I tend to design our own sites a bit wider - say 900px wide. I think most people have moved on to wider monitors.

01-24-2009, 02:52 PM
Yeah, 1024 or higher does dominate right now, but that still leaves roughly 3% to 5% still using 800, with an occasional rebel still using 640x480 (I certainly don't worry about those either). Even if you optimize a layout for 1024, it's still a good idea to design so the most important content shows in the first 776 px or create an alternate layout for lower res screens. One of the fun parts of our job is allowing for decent display on as many different screens as possible.

01-24-2009, 06:22 PM
You also have to consider the industry you're in as to what monitor size is best. As someone with a tech oriented site my stats are barely showing anyone visiting with 800x 600 resolution. I developed my site so it would look best at 1024x768, but still work for 800 width browsers. Further confusing the issue is what and how many toolbars someone might have installed and visible That won't affect the width, but it does affect where the fold will be.

Of course as mobile devices becomes better at surfing the web we'll be going back to even smaller resolutions.

Ultimately you have to see web design for what it is. You have to be flexible in your designs, because the truth is you really don't know how someone will be viewing your pages. You need to be flexible so your site works across as many platforms as is realistic.

01-25-2009, 02:00 PM
Is there any advantage to a shorter home page in grabbing the customer or possibly SEO reasons to have it short and to the point like that?

(I assume by “short” you mean a small vertical dimension.) An obvious advantage of a “short” web page is that it helps to eliminate some vertical scrolling on monitors. If you can get your content on such a page while retaining readability and visual integrity, then it's possibly the best course to take.

As far as horizontal scrolling is concerned, it's definitely good to avoid. I personally don't mind horizontal scrolling too much unless I need to do it to read text or see all of a graphic.


01-25-2009, 03:15 PM
I thought I posted on this but I can't find it. Pretty much saying what was said above. I'd write for a 1024 resolution to get as much info above the fold as you can unless you are targeting the elderly or a grouping that is not very computer literate. Or do what Seolman did and monitor your stats. New installs of XP or Vista default to that to the best of my knowledge.

Personally I don't like the style of the small index page. You are missing the opportunity to put a lot more content on the page. Just get the important stuff above the fold so people can scroll down.

Seolman - what did you use for a stats package that collects monitor resolutions?

01-26-2009, 12:49 AM
Seolman - what did you use for a stats package that collects monitor resolutions?

I use Google Analytics on all my sites. I use web logs to get real traffic data which I pick apart with some silly little programs I use and Analytics for trending data. I find any Javascript based programs I've used (like Analytics) tend to deliver lower numbers than the raw server data but provide much better data about visitor actions.