Home Page Design

Have you ever searched for a product or service on the world-wide-web and encountered sites that are not inviting for the user? How about those that are inviting? The purpose of this posting is to discuss this topic with examples.
When designing websites, you have 5 seconds, so to speak, to seduce the user. That is, in order for the user to feel welcome, the homepage needs to be attractive and inviting. And if the latter is not true, you risk visitors clicking away to another site.

In the event of conducting this lesson, I reviewed the web page for Zorba’s Mediterranean Cuisine (http://www.zorbasokc.com/index.html) with a classmate. And in doing so, I learned that there are some things that I would change to make the site a little more inviting. First of all, the colors are too loud. That is, the red background is too bright and second, the buttons are bright blue. Third, the font selections for the navigation bar buttons are very plain.

If I could offer improvements to this site, I would:
• Use larger fonts for the navigation bar buttons.
• Reduce the number of buttons on the navigation bar to 6 or 7
• Change the bright blue to a softer color, perhaps pastel or earth-tone colors
• Place hover photos that show detail for the food menu items displayed

The City Arts Center website (http://www.cityartscenter.org/) appears to be very successful. There are several reasons for this. First of all, the logo, which is a home page link, is in the upper left corner. Second, the navigation bar is across the top and has the convenient number of seven links. The user oriented links are towards the beginning while the organization oriented links are towards the end. Third, selecting each of the navigation buttons opens a new page with subcategories on the left bar. Fourth, there is a slide show where each slide indicates a photo with text to advertise several things including: mission statement, lecture series, up-coming events, hours of operation, and art classes. And fifth, there are additional links (photos) to up-coming events.

If I was to recommend improvements, I would:
• Add the hover style to the navigation buttons to display the subcategories

The pop-country music group Sugarland has a very attractive website (http://sugarlandmusic.com/). I feel that it shows many signs of success for the following reasons. First, key items are above the fold. These include register and login in the upper right corner, seven links in the navigation bar, search field in the upper right, join mailing list in the upper right, and the slide show. The items listed in the slide show include: option to watch new music video, preorder new album, download new album from iTunes, and advertise up-coming broadcast of concert program. And third, there is an attractive logo and background.

This site effectively targets the marketing message. And my recommendation for improvement is mainly a preference.
• Make the logo a little smaller to give more surface area above the fold.
• Make the slide show a little smaller
• Add additional links to the side of the slide show

The website for Yesterday, a Tribute to the Beatles (http://www.legendsofyesterday.com/) is not very successful. I have determined 4 reasons. First, there are too many (nine) buttons on the navigation bar. Second, button text is too small. Third, there is a stand-alone button to enter site. And forth, there are two home buttons.
My suggestion to make this homepage better is the following:
• Remove the redundant home link button
• Remove enter site button and incorporate its contents into a selection on the navigation bar
• Reconsider all navigation buttons into specific categories and limit to seven
• Utilize a more attractive hover display for navigation buttons

The Waffle House restaurant website (http://www.wafflehouse.com/welcome/) has many things that I feel are unsuccessful. First of all, it is too busy with information that clutters the page. Second, there is no central focal point. Third, there is a yellow and black checkerboard pattern. Even though part of the corporate design, it is too loud. And forth, there are too many (eight) items on the navigation bar.

My suggestions for improvement include the following:
• Move logo to upper left and make it a home link
• Remove home link from navigation bar
• Reduce size of facebook and twitter links
• Remove yellow and black checkerboard pattern and place in the background and dim to a lighter contrast
• Move restaurant photo to the front and adjust contrast brighter


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