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It's very trendy to have one page sites, where the first screen the user sees is a beautiful image with a single headline. For example, http://www.squarespace.com/, http://playgroundinc.com/, http://www.madebyhangar.com/ or http://150px.com/. I love how these look as a designer, but whenever I present this kind of design to a client, they wrinkle their forehead and complain that there is hardly any information shown to the user when they arrive. They want to cram as much information above the fold of the first page as possible.

My assumption is that the visitor should be presented with one simple thing that will entice them to continue. My clients' assumption is that the visitor should be presented with a large amount of information they can scan. Is there any data that can confirm or deny these assumptions?

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3 Answers 3

It depends on the target audience. For Squarespace, it makes perfect sense for them to focus on a more visual/audio experience since that's their target demographic (artists, musicians, etc.).

The page can be better utilized if it's designed to guide the user towards relevant information. This doesn't mean cramming everything into the top 600 pixels but rather, establishing a system and flow for where a user can get the information they want.

Reference:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_foraging

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So is the idea to determine whether the site is a place people go seeking specific information (e.g. a site like Stack Exchange) or if it's a place where people are just going to get a general idea of a company (e.g. a restaurant or salon site)? –  ridiculously happy Jan 16 at 23:19
    
Exactly. Figure out the purpose/intention of your site and then try to guide users towards that activity. –  flatfootdesign Jan 16 at 23:21
    
Also remember. Studies show (and it's quite obvious) that users scroll sites, so cramming everything in one space isn't a good choice. –  Majo0od Jan 18 at 20:50

I don't know that you ever should.

The latter example appears to be trendiness for the sake of trendiness. And, IMHO, a bit of a UX mess.

That said, the Squarespace page is a bit different. It's essentially an Ad. It's using more traditional advertising centric rules-of-thumb. Simple, focused message. Supporting imagery that doesn't compete, but enhances.

Does it work? I can't say. It's visually and interactively well executed. Does it convert users? Only they can say.

And, ultimately, that's when you should do it...when it converts more users than whatever you had prior to it. :)

Since you and your client both have a strong theory behind it, maybe this is a good opportunity for some A/B testing.

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Why is 150px a mess? I love it, but I'm looking at it with designer eyes and probably blind to how a regular user sees it. –  ridiculously happy Jan 16 at 23:35
    
@ridiculouslyhappy for a number of reasons, the least of which is I have absolutely no idea what the company does from their home page. That's usually a bad sign. It's also full of so many bells and whistles that I'm distracted rather than engaged. –  DA01 Jan 17 at 2:10
    
Pity though that SquareSpace's page messes with my browser's history. Each "page version" they show automatically is a new entry in my browser's history. Thanks SquareSpace, I needed umpteen back clicks to get to ux... –  Marjan Venema Jan 17 at 17:42

The problem you are mentioning is generic rather universal. Every client wants to capitalize business from his site to the levels possible but not every client understands human psychology and rules of human interest and engagement. You cannot blame customers entirely for this thinking as their learning resource is real-world and in physical stores, the more on display you have, the more likely it is to sell. Customers carry forward this thinking to their web projects as well and expect more is more but this is why we, the designers learn and get our business from.

We sell our customers satisfaction, not from the designs alone but from the "service" we offer and guiding customers to the right strategy is essentially one of the part of this service. Now what can you do here when customer is refusing, well it is a subject vast enough that I can write two books on but in a nut-shell, you need to show him a part of your thinking process by educating him.

Now how can you educate a customer? hard job but there are no short-cuts, Either you deliver him what he wants and the way he wants or you offer him what is right and what his business needs - but he needs to understand that what you are suggesting is actually good for his business and he should listen to you more. You don't need to bring him equal to your level of understand on the subject but you need to EARN ENOUGH CREDIBILITY FOR SOME MATTERS in his/her eyes so he may start relying on your judgement for the other matters, even the matters which he doesn't know well. That is the start and that is the end to this problem.

You should have this discussion way before you show any of your designs to your client. Learn from him and when he tells you what he expects, this is the opportunity where you can correct some of his dimensions and understanding of digital world. If you don't make this ground and show your prepared stuff straight-away, you are most likely to receive same comments every time.

Hope this helps.

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But I don't actually know that less is more. I'm asking if it truly is. I'm not asking "How do I convince my client that my assumption is correct?" I'm asking "Is my assumption even correct in the first place?" –  ridiculously happy Jan 16 at 23:23
    
It is correct. Humans have very limited attention budget which we can offer as we land on a site. The first "need" we have is to know if we are on the right site. How do you learn that? By looking at visual elements and the text available. The more visible and brief punchline you have, the more likely it is seen, read and learned. Try reading "Don't make me think" by Steve Krug. That is one great book on this subject. –  Salman Jan 16 at 23:27
    
@ridiculouslyhappy "Less is more" is a truism--but don't confuse that with, say, a mathematical proof. Mies van der Rohe co-opted the phrase, rightfully so, but it isn't meant to be a hard rule. It just a bit of advice to consider. But it's not always going to fit the particular needs of the particular client and project you are working on. –  DA01 Jan 17 at 2:13
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@DA01, I think the talk of context is very important and it decides for sure but there is second part to this guideline which is "make things simple but not simpler". It is the "simpler" part which is counter-productive but how much simple is simple enough is totally context dependent. –  Salman Jan 17 at 2:19
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@Salman I agree. I think the phrase "rules are meant to be broken" can apply as well. :) –  DA01 Jan 17 at 2:25

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