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We're creating a data aggregator site for different activities one can do in our city. We're not sure of what to include and what not to on our front page.

Right now we have a big search function on which a user can type the name of any activity or his location to bring up results, but the problem is these kind of things are not famous that the user knows what to search for.

Should we assume that the average user nowadays will be able to explore the site himself or should we leave subtle clues, if yes then how to go about it?

For example, many websites show trending places and collections. We have included that but are still unsure if that is enough.

Any advice is appreciated!

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So if I understand correctly, you have a website which lists places to be activities to do. Is it crowd-sourced? Is there any benefit of inviting users to contribute? Or your model considers users only as consumers? This is important because that is how you'd decide what elements should be on the front page.

Let us have a look at two websites.

1. Zomato (A restaurant recommendation site)

enter image description here

This is specifically food focused web site. They have a header (not in screenshot) which has site branding and log in controls at the places you'd expect them to be.

Then their main page is divided in two sections. The first one caters to visitors who know what they want to do. After selecting location, you can directly put any cuisine/dish/beverage there to search. It takes you to the search results.

Recently, they have expanded in other locations, and they have chosen to highlight this recent development on the front page. This instills confidence in the visitor that it is growing and it might be trustworthy.

For a more exploratory audience the site offers collections, this is what you are already doing. I'd recommend to keep that up.

Below the fold, they list all the cuisines and at the end they have a light footer giving everything that is not specifically related to finding next food hub, like hiring notification, about page etc.

2. Foursquare

enter image description here

Foursquare is a little advanced compared to Zomato. I personally find it somewhat cluttered. It is trying to do many things from their homepage.

Besides branding and logging in, it adds the search at the top row. What follows is a promotional content. It is welcoming user and inviting them to join the site. It is then showing trending places in a somewhat carousel type of thing.

Similar to Zomato, even these guys follow collection and activities after these elements. Foursquare is fairy established, so they have moved location related information in their footer.

Furthermore, both these sites Do Not employ false bottom. They want users to scroll towards more relevant data.

enter image description here

I find zomato very streamlined whereas foursquare is feature packed. You need to find a sweet spot somewhere in the middle. For activities, trending, collections, and search offer a comprehensive suite. You need to think about audience engagement. The answers to crowd-sourcing related question would also help you include something more on your website.

If these activities involve anything related to finance, or it involves people investigating time/effort trusting data on your site, then I would also recommend contact us, or call center numbers for people to contact you easily.

  • Wow thanks for the nice reply!! What do you mean by false bottom?? And regarding the examples given above, how much place should the search take? For example Zomato takes up half of the page, in Foursquare it is right at the top. Also I've seen site where he search takes up the full viewport, any best practices? – Kartik Anand May 20 '15 at 11:24
  • False bottom is when a website gives an impression that there is nothing to scroll. Earlier versions of Apple web pages definitely had false bottoms. This practice is discouraged and so you can see sites adding something incomplete near the fold so users know that the content is scrollable. – Harshal May 20 '15 at 11:42
  • Doesn't an active scroll bar say that it is scrollable. I'm asking this because right now or website has a full page image, but has content under it, and we haven't provided any visual clues to say that the site is scrollable. – Kartik Anand May 20 '15 at 11:44
  • Zomato caters to only food. That means, its target audience will probably have keywords in mind like Pizza, Burger, Chinese, Continental etc. So directly offering search is a big helper when I know what I want to search. Foursquare is more generic. It lists places. A user may not always know the name of the place, but if she knows, then the powerful search will take her there precisely. Hence search is not the only/primary mode of navigation. You see tags like Cozy Places, Sports Bar on the homepage. – Harshal May 20 '15 at 11:46
  • Let me complete about search. The activities context is more inclined towards Foursquare. I might come to your site to see what all activities are available in and around a location, but I might also come searching bungee jumping specifically. I guess your search and other mode of navigation needs to balance that. – Harshal May 20 '15 at 11:48
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If your site is primarely about 'events' then you could help the user by 'clustering' your events and offer 'search entry points' depending on the two most relevant pieces of information probably all events have in common and the user is also aware of: time and space.

This would enable users to search for events and activities in two ways, even if they had no idea 'what is going on' in town:

  • either a user could look for near by events – and then checks when the event is going to take place

  • or a user could look for events in a time frame that would suit her/his schedule – and then checks where the event is going to take place

  • Additionally to these two 'search related entry points' I would always recommend to have a third section 'editors choice' or 'recommended'. This can of course also be applied to the two above entry points like 'this weekend we recommend…' etc.

So for a front page I would suggest to have basically three main 'fields' or sections, that could also be combined.

I would however not recommend to put too much focus on automated algorythms like "popular searches" or the like since such practices tend to support already well known events – but that's maybe just my personal opinion.

  • Hi, I might have confused you, but the site is not for events, by activities I mean outing places such as camping bowling etc. One thing we have already put is trending places. I don't know if that's enough. – Kartik Anand May 20 '15 at 10:10
  • Yep i see – i guess that would boil down my answer to the 'local search' and 'locally relevant' suggestions… – tillinberlin May 20 '15 at 14:21
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I think the Google design (homepage with just a searchfield) is bold, and maybe too bold for anything besides Google. So I'd put content on the front page.

What comes to my mind?

  • frequent searches (only successful ones: some hits, user selected at least one) (shows examples of what works, including search syntax)
  • maybe some categories (shows what is covered by your site)
  • search hits frequently clicked
  • recommended activities (if you have a kind of city community)
  • how to get listed on your site
  • maybe you want to include campaigns (e.g., the week of Jazz)
  • a timeline of next events
  • and maybe more ideas derived from similar sites?

Regarding layout, I'd put the searchbox in the center of attention: full width, top of the page, large. Whatever additional content you have I'd put into columns below the search box, one column per content category, with entries ranked from top to bottom. In that way, your user sees the search box as most important feature, but can also see the other content and explore it.

  • How should one display them? I mean we have provided example search inside the search box itself. But where should we put frequent searches? – Kartik Anand May 20 '15 at 9:19
  • @KartikAnand, I've extended my answer. – virtualnobi May 27 '15 at 7:28

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