Three seconds if you’re lucky. It’s all you’ve got.
You only have a few seconds to gain the interest of your visitor. It’s important to make those few seconds count when making a first impression. However, those few and precious seconds don’t always happen where you believe they are going to happen.
I understand it’s hard. Clients want to see ‘wow’ on the homepage. Designers want to show ‘wow’ on the home page. Everyone wants to get the overall look for a website established and the thinking is the home page is the best way to do this. So it’s only natural that this page gets so much of the attention. But what about the pages on the rest of the site? Are they not as important as the home page? What happens to the ‘wow’ after a person leaves the home page? Should it be lost?
What about sites that don’t technically have pages? Sites, like http://www.newzealand.com/int/ and http://pinterest.com/ that is just one long continuously scrolling page? What about sites that have hundreds of pages? What about sites that are experienced on mobile devices like an iPhone or iPad? What happens when someone enters the site from an internal page, shouldn’t this person experience a ‘wow’ as well? Shouldn’t the ‘wow’ be continuous throughout the site no matter where the visitor goes?
The Holistic Wow
I think it is important to stop worrying about what the home page does to ‘wow’ a visitor. Instead, I think it is time to start worrying about how the whole website experience ‘wows’ a visitor. The ‘wow’ needs to be baked in to every page.
The ‘wow’ isn’t always a graphic treatment, a cool video, or some kind of one time visual. The ‘wow’ can be and should be a lot of things. It can be how easy it is for the visitor to find the product they’ve been searching forever for, how simple the site makes it for the visitor to learn something new, or how beautiful the simple imagery is. The ‘wow’ is holistic and cannot be defined by only one area of the site.
So go ahead design the home page, show the home page, and get excited about the home page ‘wow’ but don’t forget that you only have moments to impress and those moments are also happening elsewhere.