October 11, 2002, 12:00 AM

Why home pages get cluttered

Turf battles can overload a home page. The solution isn’t just cutting links, but setting and sticking to home page goals, reports Jupiter Research.

Want to know which department is really running the show at an e-commerce site? Check out the design of the home page, says Jupiter Research Inc. “Overly ambitious, cluttered and poorly organized web pages are very public indications of internal turf battles,” says Jupiter analyst Ken Cassar. “The home page is the most visible public manifestation of the conflicts within a retail organization.”

Retailers should seek to use 90% of the home page to support primary and secondary home page objectives, which include navigation/search, brand messaging and customer service, according to Jupiter, leaving only 10% of the home page for other, less critical functions. Even sticking to key objectives, many retailers still need to achieve a more efficient mix of them on the home page, Jupiter says.

For example, some retailers allocate large spaces on the home page to product merchandising in the belief that it has a significant impact on sales. However, Jupiter’s data show that online shoppers already have distinct purchase intent, which means home page merchandising is wasted on all but the estimated 20% of web visitors who visit a site just to browse.

The solution to an overloaded home page is too often simply cutting the number of links on the page, but without defining and adhering to the home page`s goals, that won’t improve the design or performance, Jupiter says. Reduced home page links should be a result of setting goals and streamlining priorities, rather than achieving an explicit goal. “These goals must be set at the highest level of the company and enforced by those with day-to-day responsibility for running the web site,” Cassar says.


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