News from The Front

I’m still amazed at the number of people who ask for a “splash page” on their site: preferably something with lots of animated gifs “because they look nice”.

It’s become almost a mantra with me that home pages must provide a reason for the visitor to come back. (Actually, all pages should give the visitor a reason to come back because it’s just as likely that they’ll parachute in as a result of a link from StumbleUpon or Facebook or some search engine.) So your homepage should feature fresh content, perhaps even some random call to action, to keep it interesting.

This was all confirmed by a reread of Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think. And then it dawned on me as I looked over the homepage of this very site, it too was a splash page. One visit was enough to know everything it said and there was precious little novelty: no reason to come back.

Needless to say, I’ve begun a rewrite of the JWC home page. There’s still some way to go — I will be adding some live updated content in the form of RSS too — but there’s certainly lessons to be learned.

They include:

  • Never be afraid to re-examine your content
  • Never be complacent about your site, and
  • Take your own good advice

Good Lessons

Don’t Make Me Think was first published in 2000, but almost all of it is still relevant. I’ll be regurgitating much of it in the coming weeks, with some more up to date insights of my own.

But usability is a vital part of good SEO and you neglect it at your peril. It’s not just a question of hard-to-use web sites not being “sticky” (actually, studies show that people will persevere with an inaccessible website because they fear the alternative won’t be much better), a usable site makes for better SEO because it is attractive to humans and robots.

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