Two-Way Street

The Jockeying Behind Home Page Designs


It's rare that I feel sorry for a competitor. But sometimes I do. Redesigning a home page, as a couple of other business news sites have done lately, is one such instance. It is probably one of the more arduous and difficult tasks in the Internet news business.

There are many different constituents for a big, honkin' news site. Everyone wants something different. No one will be happy.

Now you'd think it'd just be a case of editorial folks, newsies and feature types, arguing about how to display their range of articles over the page. You'd be wrong.

The graphics folks will want to add lots of pictures. It is, after all, what they live for. And pictures do have a sprucing effect.

The tech mavens will want to display their flashiest stuff ... gee-whiz gizmos and data manipulators. (These will be the same folks who complain about page-load times later).

What's Clicking On

The ad guys have a say. They do, after all, generate the stuff of paychecks. And they typically want lots of ad space, usually above the (digital) fold and way, way big. Depending on how they get their commission, they'll typically want little buttons and sponsorships scattered throughout the page as well.

The marketing department will weigh in too ... especially if your Web site is tied to some other institution ... like a network or a publication. They'll want space to push what's going on there as well. And like the ad guys, they'll want it high and big.

Don't forget your BizDev (business development) crew. They are the dealmakers ... and those deals can end up being pretty important for a site's operations. They'll want those deals featured prominently as well. That helps them make more deals.

So there's a lot of jockeying going on. All business-news web sites go through it from time to time. In the end you hope the result is what's right for the reader.

What I find interesting is that as we all go through our respective redesigns, we seem to be edging nearer to one another in presentation ... a sort of three-column, middle feature center, bottom buckets kind of approach. So either we're all stealing ideas from one another or the jockeying is taking us all to the same place.