Notes on Krug, Chapter 7

Things a Home page should have
- site identity and mission: what the site is and what it's used for, why users should be here and not on another site
- site hierarchy: give an overview of what the site has to offer, content and features, how it's all organized, usually handled by persistent navigation
- search: prominently displayed Search box
- teases: entice users with hints of the "good stuff" inside
- content promos: spotlight newest, best, or most popular pieces of content
- feature promos: invitation to explore additional sections of the site, invitation to try new features
- timely content: need to have some content that gets updated frequently, needs some signs of life to signal that it has not been abandoned or outdated
- deals: space for advertising, cross-promotion, and co-branding deals
- shortcuts: most frequently requested pieces of content, have those links on Home page for easy access
- registration: need links or text boxes for new users to register and old users to sign in, needs a way to let users know that they've signed in

Home page objectives
- show users what they are looking for, make it obvious how users can get to what they want
- show users what they are not looking for, expose things the site has to offer that users may be interested in but not actively looking for
- show users where to start
- establish credibility and trust, may be the only chance to create a good impression

Usual constraints
- things promoted on the Home page tend to get significantly more traffic, waterfront property of the Web, fiercely fought over by all who have a stake in that site
- everybody has an opinion about it, Home page is important
- has to appeal to everyone who visits the site, no matter how diverse their interests

Designing a Home page tends to involve compromise. Some things tend to get lost in the shuffle in such compromises. Conveying the big picture tends to get lost, but it's the one thing you can't afford to lose in site creation.
- conveying the big picture = making it clear what the site is

4 questions a Home page must answer for new users
- What is this?
- What do they have here?
- What can I do here?
- Why should I be here and not somewhere else?

Need to answer the above questions at a glance, correctly and with little effort, to provide a satisfying and successful experience for new users. If not, misinterpretation and frustration may occur. The first few seconds that users spend on a new Web site or Web page are critical.
- Big Bang Theory of Web Design

Users make snap judgments, but these are a reliable predictor of more reasoned assessments. Initial impressions tend to be very similar to impressions that users have after they have had a chance to spend time on the page. Initial understanding is not always right. People form ideas about what things are and how they work which are just wrong. These first bits of "knowledge" are used to help interpret everything else they see. If first impressions are wrong, users will try to force-fit that explanation on everything they encounter and create more misinterpretations if it's wrong. This causes lost people to get even more lost.

Orienting users
- not all users enter through Home page anymore
- every page on site should do what it can to orient users properly; tell them what the site is, what it does, and what the site has to offer
- not much space on most pages to do this well
- users teleport to a page, look at the page they reached, and visit the Home page to get their bearings; users will want to see more if the page they were on was interesting

3 important places that tell what a site is about
- tagline: space right next to the Site ID, phrase visually connected to the ID, users read it as a description of the whole site
- Welcome blurb: a terse description of the site, displayed prominently at top left or center, first thing that catches a user's eye
- "Learn more": short explanatory videos for innovative products or business models

Guidelines to get message across
- use as much space as necessary, but don't use any more space than necessary: keep it short, get the point across and no more, mention a few important features but not all of them
- don't use a mission statement as a Welcome blurb: nobody reads them
- one of the most important things to test: show the Home page to people outside your organization, "main point" is the one thing nobody inside the organization will notice is missing

- pithy phrase that characterizes the whole enterprise, sums up what the site is and what makes it great
- appears below right, above, or next to the Site ID
- the one place on a page where most users can expect to find a statement of the site's purpose
- has been used in advertising, entertainment, and publishing for a long time
- good taglines are clear and informative, explain exactly what a site or organization does
- are just long enough but not too long, six to eight words usually, conveys a full thought and absorbs easily
- convey differentiation, "a really good tagline is one no one else in the world could use except you" says Jakob Nielsen
- bad taglines sound generic, don't confuse with a motto
- personable, lively, and sometimes clever; only if cleverness helps convey the benefit, not obscure it
- some sites can get by without one but it is an additional benefit to have on a site, tells why users are better off on your site

tagline = conveys a value proposition
motto = expresses a guiding principle, a goal, or an ideal; lofty and reassuring

Fifth question: where do I start?
- the need to promote everything can obscure entry points
- make entry points look like entry points, label them clearly

Promoting everything
- shortsighted behavior in Home pages
- "killing the golden goose"
- promoting things on the Home page works too well, links are guaranteed to get more traffic
- rewards and costs of adding more things to the Home page aren't shared equally, Home page gets cluttered despite additional traffic gained by more links
- tragedy of the commons = any shared resource ( a "commons") will inevitably be destroyed by overuse
- promotion overload occurs gradually, slow addition of just one more thing, requires constant vigilance against this
- stakeholders need to be educated about these dangers, offer other methods of driving traffic (cross-promoting from other popular pages, taking turns using the same space on the Home page, etc.)

I visited gaming sites, primarily Dragon Cave, Flight Rising, and Steam.

I found the Home pages for Dragon Cave and Flight Rising to be not very busy because the business is inside of the game(s). The Home pages tended to hold few out-of-the-way advertisements, a News section for updates or important info, a clickable menus to navigate around to important spots on the site. The game itself takes place within obvious clickable links and actions on the page, which stay separate from the rest of the informative or helpful links on the page.

Steam held the most advertising but for a good reason. Compared to Dragon Cave or Flight Rising, Steam is a multi-gaming platform, serving as a source for playing hundreds of various games. Short of looking up games in Search, the only way to show off new or popular additions is to put them on the Home page. This can make the site appear busy but it's a necessity regarding what exactly Steam boasts--an extensive library of games for users to purchase and play.

These sites handled the business rather well, not overwhelming users. The links and categorization was to-the-point and obvious where things would take you. The Search was properly labeled and very distinct. Overall, these sites did well in designing proper Home pages according to Krug.
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