So you are thinking of making a super cool web page to go with your super cool business/blog/profile? You have no idea what route to go as far as your home landing page? Do you go super creative or do you stick with the tried and true regular style of layouts that you see all over the internet?
The internet is a weird place, but like all media, it should be familiar and as easy to use as it can be for everyone. This is why it is great practice to have familiar norms built into your website that everybody recognizes. There is a reason most web pages have the navigation at the top with content going down in columns like reading a newspaper. It is the same reason that cars have their driver seat laid out in the same way, gas pedal on the right, blinker to the left of the steering wheel and so forth. So the big question is how creative can you get with your site without making it too unfamiliar that it hampers your guests.
So, to help answer this question, I conducted a small survey asking people whether they prefer a familiar landing page or a less traditional one. Here are the results.
Hypothesis: Most people will prefer a more familiar landing page as they are easier to use. A younger audience might prefer a more creative page, but the novelty might wear off over time.
Two landing pages for my website, one with a traditional image slider with button links and another with a more creative navigation box with all links on each side of it.
Survey sent out to a wide demographic to see which layout people prefer.
A total of 20 people surveyed.
Number of people who preferred the Traditional Image Slider: 9
Number of people who preferred the Creative Navigation Box: 11
We can see from the data that there wasn’t a significant difference in which page people preferred. One thing I noticed was that people who fall into the demographic of 50 years and over preferred the creative navigation box as it had all of the links in one place making it easier to understand and use. A younger demographic said they liked the image slider because it drew in their attention with nice big images. This is probably one reason image sliders are so common. This result is a little surprising as it is not what I predicted in my hypothesis.
One thing to keep in mind when thinking in a creative way is “will this direction draw in people’s attention while still being easy to use?” The best attitude when designing is to balance out creativity and usability. One shouldn’t be taking away from the other.
While it is good to think outside the norms and make something eye-catching, it shouldn’t be done at the expense of familiarity and usability. The best websites are ones that are both creative and familiar as well as easy to use and blend the two together into a nice coherent result.
Things to Consider:
Something to keep in mind is that my results might look different if I had more responses to the survey. The hypothesis could be true if perhaps I had asked more questions for the respondents to answer or I had them give a rank for each layout rather than which one they like better.
It is good to be creative. Websites are not art, though, so any creativity that you add should always be followed with the question “does this add to or take away from the core experience of my website?”
What do you want your users to do? Any design choice you make should help them do that. If it doesn’t, then take it out. Also keep in mind that user retention is part of the core experience. If something you add to your site helps keep the user there then it is doing its job.