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113 Guidelines to Homepage Usability

From the Jakob Nielsen & Marie Tahir Book

Communicating the Site's Purpose

  1. Show the company name and/or logo in a reasonable size and noticeable location
  2. Include a tag line that explicitly summarises what the site or company does
  3. Emphasize what your site does that's valuable from the users point of view, as well as how you differ from key competitors
  4. Emphasize the highest priority tasks so that users have a clear starting point on the homepage
  5. Clearly designate one page per site as the official homepage
  6. On your main company website, don't use the world "website" to refer to anything but the totality of the company's web presence.
  7. Design the homepage to be clearly different from all the other pages on the site.

Communicating information About Your Company

  1. Group corporate information, such as About Us, Investor Relations, Press Room, Employment and other information about the company, in one distinct area.
  2. Include a homepage link to an "About Us" section that gives users an overview about the company and links to any relevant detals about your products, services, company values, business proposition, managment team, and so forth.
  3. If you want to get press coverage for your company, include a "Press Room" or "News Room" link on your homepage.
  4. Present an unified face to the customer, in which the website is one of the touchpoints rather than an entity unto itself. - Don't separate your web presence from the rest of your company.
  5. Include a "Contact Us" link on the homepage that goes to a page with all contact information for your company.
  6. If you provide a "feedback" mechanism, specify the purpose of the link and whether it will be read by customer service or the webmaster, and so forth.
  7. Don't include internal company information (which is targeted for employees and should go on the intranet) on the public website.
  8. If your site gathers any customer information include a "Privacy Policy" link on the homepage.
  9. Explain how the website makes money if it's not self-evident.

Content Writing

  1. Use customer-focused language. Label sections and categories according to the value they hold for the customer, not according to what they do for your company.
  2. Avoid redundant content.
  3. Don't use clever phrases and marketing lingo that make people work too hard to figure out what you're saying.
  4. Use consistent capitalization and other style standards.
  5. Don't label a clearly defined area of the page if the content is sufficiently self-explanatory.
  6. Avoid single-item categories and single-item bulleted lists.
  7. Only use imperative language such as "Enter a City or Zip Code" for mandatory tasks, or qualify the statement appropriately.
  8. Spell out abbreviations, initialisms, and acronyms, and immediately follow them by the accreviation, in the first instance.
  9. Avoid exclamation marks.
  10. Use all uppercase letters sparingly or not at all as a formating style.
  11. Avoid using spaces and punctuation inapproprately, for emphasis.

Revealing Content Through Examples

Archives and Accessing Past Content

Links

Navigation

Search

Tools and Tasks Shortcuts

Graphics and Animation

Graphic Design

UI Widgets

Window Titles

URLs

News and Press Releases

Popup Windows and Staging Pages

Advertising

Communicating Technical Problems and Handling Emergencies

Credits

Page Reload and Refresh

Customization

Gathering Customer Data

Fostering Community

Dates and Times

Stock Quotes and Displaying Numbers

Homepage Design Conventions

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