Why the obsession with long home pages?
October 29, 2014 • Glenn Murray
Last week, I wireframed a client’s new home page. He reviewed it over the weekend and, today, asked what I plan to put ‘below the fold’. My answer:
“Nothing. I don’t think you should use a long home page.”
Why? Well first, let me clarify what ‘below the fold’ means…
Before I explain the above answer, here’s what he meant by ‘below the fold’. (Using part of my home page as an example.)
Now… Why not use a long home page?
A lot of sites these days are opting for the long home page approach, where the reader has to scroll (sometimes a lot) to read the whole thing.
But you shouldn’t make the home page long just because others are. Or just because you can.
The aim of the home page is to engage your reader, to draw them in and to get them to do something. There’s no need to jam everything onto it. In fact, in most cases, I think the less you put on your home page, the better. Keep it focused, clear and succinct. Limit choices, so readers don’t get lost or feel overwhelmed, and your calls to action are crystal-clear.
The last thing you want is for people to be paralysed by choice. (It happens… Read Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational.)
Most of the time, I think you should use a short home page that links off to multiple sub-pages (via call to action buttons, in-line links and the main navigation menu).
People will also feel comforted by the organised nature of the information. Your links tell them exactly what to expect when they click, so they’re risking less by clicking the link than scrolling down the page on the off chance they’ll find the information they want.
When is a long home page justified?
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t use a long home page. Just don’t do it simply because you can. Unless you have a really good reason.
What’s a really good reason? Well, the most obvious is when you have some info that absolutely must appear on the home page, and it can’t fit above the fold. Another would be if you feel using fancy parallax scrolling effects will impress (and convert more of) your readers.
(Incidentally, both of these conditions apply to my home page: 1) I wanted the home page to tell the story of my collaboration with Ian; and 2) I wanted it to prove we can design and develop elegant long pages with parallax scrolling.)
What do you think?
Do you use long home pages? Please comment with your thoughts.