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Frank Remarks: Home, Home on the Web: 10 Keys to Home Pages That Sell

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  1. Frank Remarks: Home, Home on the Web: 10 Keys to Home Pages That Sell
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Keep Frank Fiore's 10 rules for e-commerce home page design in mind and you'll go a long way toward designing home pages that sell.
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Back when the web was young (1994), I was working as a web producer for a computer game company. One of the first companies to use the web to promote a game, they also provided a site where players could find tips, sign up for the latest news, and discuss game strategies with other players.

The young webmaster and I had the task of supporting the game through its web site. We worked closely with the art department that designed the images and graphics for the game, and did a pretty good job of replicating its overall look and feel for the web. And the marketing department did a great job of promoting the product; when the web site went live—the day the game hit the retailer's shelves—the hits to the site nearly melted the site's server.

We gave ourselves a pat on the back and congratulations all around. The home page that the webmaster and I designed, using the images that the art department supplied, was simplicity itself, and quickly and easily drew visitors into the site.

Until the CEO stepped in.

Deciding that the home page needed more "oomph," the CEO started adding a long list of reviewers' quotes and disclaimers, forcing visitors to read through this laundry list before they could enter the site. Hearing of a then little-known animation technique called "gif89," the CEO told the webmaster to include a series of animated images on the home page. Had Flash been well known at that time, he would undoubtedly have had the programmers create a Flash introduction to boot.

We protested the CEO's attempts at design and promotion and explained to him a little-used principle of e-commerce:

An e-commerce web site is designed to sell—not to entertain.

Nearly 10 years and thousands of e-commerce web sites later, you would think that businesses would have learned this simple rule and would try not to turn visitors away from their e-commerce sites. Not so. And the most flagrant space where this and other rules are broken is in the absolute worst place—on the home page.

So what do you do—and even more important, not do—to create home pages that sell?

The list consists of 10 important areas.

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