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5:4 Communicate the Website's Value and Purpose

Relative Importance:

Relative Importance rating of 4 out of 5

Strength of Evidence:

Strength of Evidence rating of 3 out of 5

Document Type: Guideline


Topic:

Page Structure - Homepage


Guideline:

Clearly and prominently communicate the purpose and value of the website on the homepage.


Comments:

On average, users browsing or searching the Web spend little time on each website. Emphasize what the website offers that is of value to users, and how it differs from key competitors. This is important because many users misunderstand the purpose of a website.

In some cases the purpose of a website is easily inferred. In other cases, it may need to be explicitly stated through the use of brief text or a tagline. Do not expect users to read a lot of text or navigate the website to determine its purpose.


Sources:

  • Coney, M.B. & Steehouder, M. (2000). Role playing on the Web: Guidelines for designing and evaluating personas online. Technical Communication, 47(3), 327-340.
  • Nall, J., Koyani, S.J., & Lafond, C. (2001, January). Lessons learned while usability testing the CancerNet Web site. National Cancer Institute, Communication Technologies Branch Technical Report.
  • Nielsen, J. (2003, November 10). The ten most violated homepage design guidelines. Alertbox. Retrieved November 2005, from http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20031110.html.

Good Example:

Concise taglines help users understand your site's purpose.

05_04_good_example