How many “starts” should a front page have??

I used to go bonkers over not enough story starts off of A-1 at The Seattle Times. I always felt there should have been more. But then again I used to be all about WORDS and not entirely into visuals/graphics.

So here’s one of those “design your own front page” websites and it got me thinking: How many starts/entry points should a good (online) front page have??

Take a look.

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2 responses to “How many “starts” should a front page have??

  1. With a decision like this to make, I usually consider screen size. Back in the days when 1024*768 was the default screen resolution, the maximum number of ‘starts’ you could put in would be 2-3. Nowadays it gets tricky with higher resolutions and widescreen. I’d say 1 big feature, and 3-4 smaller story headers would be a good estimate? At least that’s the norm around the web nowadays.

  2. I agree with Li Cheng (don’t I always?). I believe the first thing our brains register when presented with a new website is take into account colors, shapes and lines, i.e. the visual elements. This is true even with entirely text-based sites because this initial visual impression happens before you read anything. Blocks of text form squares or rectangles, different colors and lines can cause our eyes to follow a natural path through the site.

    With the Alltop site, my eyes were instantly drawn to the bright orange banner with the dude’s face in it. After that, I scanned for something to pop out, but nothing grabbed me. There were no pictures to help me find something interesting quickly and all the story lists were the same size, font, and shape (squares).

    I know we’re only talking split seconds here, but too many choices can leave the reader/viewer feeling overwhelmed. I usually lose interest if I don’t see something worthwhile within about 15-20 seconds.

    Teacher Ted and I had a discussion about this after class on Tuesday. We browsed through news/media websites, comparing and contrasting their designs. Compare NY Times to Washington Post – no contest because the New York Times uses a visual strategy to get your eyes to follow a path through its media and headlines. Washington Post is off center, displays ugly ads more prominently than its top story and it has no defined border so it kind of blends into the html background. I think we want to avoid a cluttered-looking front page.

    So, absolutely, 1 prominent feature w/photo 700-800 pixels wide, text below that, and 4 smaller stories below that, each with its own small (but not too small) photo.

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