Redesigning a Home or Landing Page


Background Info

Dragon Cave home page

I chose Dragon Cave as it is a site I regularly visit, almost daily. The homepage is simple so I thought it could use a look-over.

Dragon Cave is a creature adoptables egg-hatching site that uses views and clicks to help your eggs hatch and your creatures grow. You collect eggs and hatch them into a variety of different dragons. There are special holiday events a few times a year where exclusive dragon eggs are released. You don't have to pay, it's a free sign-up with no real obligations or consequences to playing. It is a very easy, perhaps even boring, game site.

Roles Defined by Design

The home page treats users as new players. You are a new person in this world. The rhetor is the overall narrator of the events on this site, an unnamed omnipotent entity. Not a lot of site history info is available here but there are a few categories to steer you around at the top.

It gives a brief blurb about the game's point and the world at the top of the page. It also contains a simple map of the world, along with specific regions of the world that can be clicked for those egg-hunting. These links cannot really be used by anyone not signed into the site, giving you such a message if you try to click these. Off to the right side is a large Recent News box that leads to a separate forum site created for Dragon Cave. At the top-right corner is the time of day in EST and at the bottom-left is the number of users visiting this page currently.

The background is a piece of art crafted for the site, a cave with eggs in it. The main text section resembles a scroll, the main writing medium used on the site for players. There is only one ad, stuck at the bottom of the page, out of site unless you scroll all the way down the page to check how many people are viewing the current page.

All of this information really serves as a means to convince users to register with the site to learn more and join in on the fun. It mostly leans toward users with the clickable links and relies on new people checking out the Help section to learn more about the overall functions and features of the site. It is a very colorful and interesting site that uses imagery to draw in attention. There's no visible buttons for anything leading off-site besides the Forum button itself.

The Redesign

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I find the background and design to be rather good. It has custom art as a static background, focusing on a cave with eggs in it. This ties into the site name and function (a dragon's cave full of eggs). It also cycles through various dragon sprites in the corner to display the variety of creatures you can get from eggs. The map on this page is colored and lights up areas when you explore the links above it, highlighting where egg-hunters will be looking when jumping into the map. I don't find any of these distracting. These are necessary aesthetics to the site the give you the right feel for this world without becoming overly noises to non-users.

I'm not playing around with the layout as much because on sites like these, which serve as idly entertainment, simple layouts are usually best. Users won't be spending a lot of time here because the only active thing to do here is jump into the map and collect eggs. All other activities are done in the user's scroll, in the forum, or in the holiday events during applicable dates (Valentines Day, Halloween, Christmas). The homepage really has nothing active to it.

There really isn't a tagline here. It contains a small blurb on the homepage at the very top. I feel a tagline could help advertise it more strongly. The only way I found this site was by looking up "adoptable dragon egg-hatching sites" in Google. While the Site ID is very distinct, a tagline could help it spread more.

On the home page, it has a Log-in and Sign-up section right there. But at the very top by the time, it has these same links. And if you click on some of the links in the text, it takes you to that same Sign-up section. On the home page, getting rid of the buttons up top would be best. There is no need to shove it in your face in several spots when you already have a whole section of the home page dedicated to it.

There is no search function here and I find it could be useful to have. The only way to learn more about the world is to go Help. The only way to know more about individual dragons, aside from hunting for the wiki off-site, is to have registered and then checked out the Dragon Encyclopedia, which users have to fill in themselves by collecting the correct eggs. I can understand why there is a lack of Search here but I would find it helpful for people not registered that are looking for more info about the site before they decide whether to register or not.

I found that the site looked very minimal to a non-user. Half of the sections are missing and a majority of the links in the description cannot be used. Any in-depth info can only be found by going to Help, which can be confusing to those who don't equate "Help" with "Learn More". So I added a few new sections, primarily World, to help draw in more users to explore and removed some of the highlighted links in the descriptions that would constantly send a non-user to the Sign-up page, which would eventually frustrate a person trying to explore.

The changes I've made definitely fall in the Accommodating category. It helps non-users learn more so that they may make the informed choice of whether to become a user or not. It also removes some of the frustration and confusion that I encountered when I first explored the site.
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