Great post this week from Jakob Nielsen and the folks at Useit.com on front page structure for corporate blogs. To summarize, it’s better to show your reader’s a variety of article excerpts than one full-length article.
That’s not surprising; article summaries give more opportunity to grab a reader’s attention, and have a higher chance of hooking readers from a broader range of your audience segments. (Deeper in the article they make an interesting point about more passionate users perhaps preferring full articles – yet another example of it paying to know your audience.)
What’s really interesting is laying these ideas over home page design. It lends credence to our belief that 3-5 major concepts is ideal for most home pages: your visitors come intermittently, not regularly, so are likely to be more interested in summaries than depth. And you’re unlikely to know exactly into which audience segment(s) they fit, so multiple paths into deeper content is most appropriate.
The UseIt.com findings also support our experience that more is not necessarily more. There’s a limit to how much material most readers will take in from a single page. Too many topics, or too much depth in any one topic, loses them before you have a chance to connect. That’s true for home page design, landing pages, even email layouts.