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3 Ineffective Homepage Features You Should Stop Using Now

By Dan StasiewskiJul 17, 2014

ineffective homepage features

This may be a case of confirmation bias, but last month, I was excited when a new corporate style guide update with a new homepage design for one of our enterprise clients landed in my inbox. The update eliminated three commonly used—but rather useless—features requested over and over again when we design new websites: homepage sliders, tabbed sections and news feeds. 

I’ve long been a proponent of eliminating all three from website designs. They serve little purpose from a user standpoint. In my opinion, the only useful thing they do is keep people inside your company happy when you add something they’ve requested to the third slide on rotating homepage banner. Further, they can actually be harmful to your content personalization strategy by creating areas that cannot utilize smart content

So what can you do instead of these three ineffective features? Have a look:

1. Homepage Slider/Rotating Banner/Carousel

Why It Doesn’t Work

In the document we received, the logic behind replacing the rotating banner on the homepage was simple: No one clicked on it, but when they did, they only clicked on the first slide anyway. This is the same result ND.edu discovered last year when it did a study of its homepage interactions. Of more than 3.7 million homepage visits, only 1 percent clicked on a featured banner. When they did click, 89 percent simply chose the first position. 

How to Replace It

Most websites now choose large hero areas that work well with both responsive design and personalized content. For example, our recently completed work on author, speaker and futurist Mike Walsh's website included a large hero area like this:

mike walsh 2

When a visitor who has provided us with information returns to the website, he or she could then see a new hero area, like this:

 mike walsh 1

While the clicks on the hero area may still be rather low, the use of personalized content and a similar experience across devices can help increase the likely interaction with that area. 

2. Tabbed Sections

Why It Doesn’t Work

Just like a homepage slider, our client discovered the first item in the tabbed section was the one the vast majority of people interacted with. The other tabs were hardly clicked on, so users weren’t taking the time to look for content hidden from view. 

How to Replace It

The tabbed section on a homepage was a byproduct of the “above the fold” mentality that is no longer relevant in a scrolling world. In a study of more than 100,000 pageviews, people used the scroll bar more than 75 percent of the time. That means you have the opportunity to put all of the relevant content in front of a user as they move down the page.

A website design we completed late last year for Just Add Ice Orchids took advantage of this when we included this masonry-like layout on the homepage:

just add ice

This put a number of the most important sections front and center in the users' scrolling view rather than hiding them from sight.

3. News/Blog Feeds 

Why It Doesn’t Work

In our client’s document, the line about the homepage news feed was simply this: “Extremely low click count.” There are two reasons this may be the case: First, a news feed often contains company-centric information, something few people care about the first time they visit your homepage. And second, these sections have traditionally been light on images.

How to Replace It

Rather than putting a stream of content directly from your blog or news section, content that may or may not be worth engaging with, use your homepage section to display your most popular content, eBook, blog post or otherwise.

Take Hyrell, for example. Rather than putting a blog feed on the homepage, the brand used an image-heavy resource section to highlight some of the educational content they’ve created:

hyrell content

While the section does need updated on a semi-regular basis, it gives Hyrell the opportunity to display its best content on the homepage. So instead of leaving the clicks to chance, this curated section keeps the brand in control of its content stream for optimal performance.

Final Thoughts

There’s a common theme among all of the replacements you may have noticed: Images. Big hero area images. A grid of images. Content sections with images. Rather than hiding content, you can display more of it in a visually stunning way. When you really want to increase interaction on your homepage, you can’t go wrong creating elegant, image-heavy layouts. Your visitors will love you for it. 

Download the High Performing Websites Guide

photo credit: ZERGE_VIOLATOR

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The Author

Dan Stasiewski

When he's not talking about marketing data and trends, he's probably in a movie theater... or randomly breaking into song.
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