December 21, 2009

Too much content on homepage?

A homepage, or a front page, is the landing page of a website. There are tons of usability guidelines for homepage design (see a list below), but one of least discussed questions is: how much content should be put on the homepage? Usually a homepage contains the following content:
  • Recent news or updates
  • Feature contents preview
  • Summary of sub-sections
  • All sorts of gadgets and links
  • Advertisement (they take a lot of spaces!)
  • Other common contents like title, menu, footer, etc.
The idea of including as much content as possible follows a flat structure design. So that users can quickly navigate to the content they desire. However, the problem is a user can lose the focus easily. A heavy loaded homepage (like may actually slow down a user's navigation because he/she spends more time on browsing the homepage. On the other hand, a too simple homepage (like may also slow down a user's operation if he/she has to follow a certain path of clicks to the desired content every time.
So, how much content is enough and balanced for a homepage? I think a general 7+-2 rule may offer some help:
  • Divide the homepage into sections (chunks); include at most 7+-2 of these chunks. A section can be defined as visually and logically related contents. They may be of difference sizes.
  • Include no more than 7+-2 items in each chunk/section and use "view more" links to link to the section home page.
I don't think this is a universal answer. It depends on the type of websites, users, and contents. Web analytics should reveal more about these.
Homepage design:

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