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Inform first, then dazzle

February 12, 2009


A flashy homepage can show off your company’s creativity and design talent, it can impress first-time visitors with all kinds of animation, music and drama… and it can get really annoying after the first 2-3 seconds. An overdone “intro” can have one of the following effects:
1. the flashy stuff goes on far too long (especially for return visitors)
2. the visitor wants to find what they came for, and is too distracted (read frustrated)
3. the visitor gets the sense that you don’t really know how to use this advertising medium.
My mantra is inform first, dazzle only when you’re sure you’re informing well. Better yet, dazzle them with how well you’re anticipating their information needs.

Oh, and part of making that informing easy includes navigation. Don’t try and be clever with inventing new ways for people to navigate your site. Usability studies show that the best websites have navigation their visitors are used to. If your navigation structure and labels are boring, they’re probably good.

Save the creativity for your portfolio.

Great example from one of the smaller firms in town – Antithesis. Their site is both informative and nicely designed. They tell you right up front who they are, and the flashy stuff is off to the right where you can choose whether or not to engage. I really like their portfolio because it’s super easy to navigate. You can switch back and forth between examples without having to go “back” and their slideshow-style gallery is a format that many news sites use. Nice and simple.

-Andrea Zuegel