We’re in the middle of a site redesign. PodTech’s site sucks, James Robertson says. I agree.
You’ll note I have been linking to everything BUT PodTech lately. Why? Cause PodTech will need to earn links just like everyone else.
The home page is a disaster. I can’t figure it out either. Funny enough, even inside a startup there are “portal vs blog” disagreements and just last week I’ve been involved in some meetings that reminded me a lot of executive review meetings at Microsoft — even in a startup you have to convince people that your way is the best. It’s why at Google and at Microsoft they measure measure measure everything. If you wanna go into Marissa Mayer’s office and tell her she’s wrong you BETTER have the proof to back up your theories.
I want a simple aggregator view on the home page. Something like the one on Share Your OPML. It’s ugly, yes (that can be fixed with the help of a good designer like Bryan Bell) but it works and it lets me fish through tons of posts.
Ugh, I just noticed the aggregator is busted there, gotta give Dave a call. But, you can see the format anyway.
It’s my thesis that people will scroll almost infinitely. Just give them high-quality stuff. At Microsoft they did research and found most people won’t click on the “next” button. But, they will scroll. You’ll notice that the search engine at live.com doesn’t ever end. If I remember the research right they are finding that people look at something like five times more information if it just keeps scrolling than if they have to click next.
But some of the team believe that everything needs to fit into one screenful. They want a portal model.
“But won’t people have trouble finding our other pages if there isn’t a link to everything we do?”
“Um, no, what do you think Google does?”
Google doesn’t use graphics. Doesn’t have long columns of text next to each other (Google goes vertical when it needs to present more information than fits in one screen — at least most of the time, Google News breaks that mold a little bit, but not really — even there it goes on to scroll baby scroll). Doesn’t do much of anything other than six simple text links.
How boring! Especially when compared to Yahoo’s home page, right? That uses graphics, tons of links, more graphics. More links.
Intuition would tell you that Yahoo’s page works better, right? Well, let’s examine some of the facts.
Compare Yahoo to Google’s stock chart. NOT BORING!!!
I’m gonna win this argument cause of that chart. Simple is better. Text links are better than graphic color crap (my eye filters out such as advertising, doesn’t yours?) People link more on simple blue-underlined text than on color crap. That’s why Google accidentally found its AdSense business model: they stopped to WATCH what the users actually DO, not what they WANTED the users to do.
One place a little bit of color does help, though, is the top news flag on MSNBC. I love that site. Why? Cause every few hours some editor in Redmond sits down, picks a story, then designs a photo flag for it with a headline and several links.
So, let’s compromise, I told the team. Do an MSNBC-style flag, with an aggregator underneath it. That way they get their editorial old-school style control and portal instincts fed, and I get my river of text and links, which makes users happy (anyone notice DIGG? Text and links baby! Oh, and with the usual rounded corner graphics. I’ll bet we have to pay some design house tens of thousands of dollars to come up with some rounded corner graphics. Heheh.
DIGG is growing faster percentagewise than any other site I know of. If you argue against Digg, you BETTER have those measurements to back up your claim. And saying “Yahoo has more viewers” is NOT a good argument. That’s like listening to DEC back in 1977 when the CEO there said the world doesn’t need personal computers.
Growth is more important, especially to a startup, because that’s where the opportunity to kick the old school in the groin exists.
Anyway, until we make the home page much more Google-like James will continue to be right: our home page sucks.
I’ll let you know when the redesign comes up. Until then, go watch Ze Frank or Rocketboom.