The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

Remove the Kitchen Sink from Your Website Homepage

Posted by Ray van Hilst on Fri, Oct 23, 2015

    

Throw-out-the-sink.jpg

We’ve been doing a lot of usability studies and user interviews for a variety of client websites recently. And there’s one specific comment that just about everyone says about their association’s website...

There’s too much stuff!!

Yes. Every org has lots of great things they do and want to highlight. And every department/board member/committee wants to showcase their amazing work on the homepage. But by putting all of that information on your website’s homepage – you create information overload and confuse users/members.

It’s like everything including the kitchen sink has to be on your homepage...

So how do you narrow it down and bring focus?

Who is the homepage REALLY for and why are they here?

Take a fresh look at your homepage and clarify who the REAL audience is? New visitors? Existing members? Industry influencers?

If your goal is to tell your industry’s story to policy makers, then feature the good work your members do. If your goal is to highlight why you should belong your membership value proposition should be the most important thing.

The key is to recognize that the homepage is merely the gateway to the rest of your information and a good navigation structure with appropriate conversion points will get the users there. Use the homepage to tell your story to your most important audience.

Push information to the primary navigation and secondary pages

Our experience and testing shows that most returning users gravitate to the site’s primary navigation. So if the sitemap/information architecture is properly defined they will find the information they came looking for anyway. So do you really need a conversion point to every single program on your homepage?  

Be sure to define the key reasons why your members or users are coming to your website and make it easy to find in your navigation. Go back to your user personas and architect your sitemap based on those user needs.

Also be suretod optimize your section landing pages to work just as hard as your homepage. This way when someone does a Google search for “YOUR ASSOCIATION conference” or “YOUR ASSOCIATION continuing education” they land on the appropriate section page instead of the homepage. This reduces the confusion of having to scroll and find what they came looking for and saves them time and lost clicks.

Cut content mercilessly

Let’s start with how people really use the web as we think your homepage:

  • Web users don’t read... they scan
  • The average web user will only read 20% of words on page
  • Concise content improves usability by 58%

So it’s time to embrace Steve Krug’s 3rd Law of Usability from his book Don't Make Me Think:

“Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what’s left.”

It’s time to get out the eraser and start removing content from your homepage to make it easier to use. Some low-hanging fruit to remove includes:

  • Social Media Feeds – Why are you sending users off your site? Use social media to send users BACK to your site.
  • Homepage Sliders/Carousels – Most users skip over those anyway. Use that for branding or at least reduce the number of slides.
  • Press Releases – Press releases are about YOU... not the member. Include information that is helpful to users.
  • Sponsors – Yes, every organization needs “non-dues revenue” in the form of sponsorship. But these clutter the page for the user. Integrate them into other places of the website for increased exposure.
  • Events That Are 4-6 months Out – In the period leading up to a major event, most of your website traffic will be for that event. So remove the clutter and make it easy to find.

The key is to embrace the power of the delete button as you look at your website.

When you’re done with all of this, you’ll find you have a cleaner, easier to use homepage. Your users will thank you for it... which means they will use your site more.

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Topics: web strategy, usability, content strategy

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