Simple & effective home page design for author website

Posted October 14th @ 12:15 am by Roger C. ParkerPrint

j-tidwell-home-four5Wednesday’s promotion tip for authors (#2 of 2)

I’m always intrigued by the often deceptively simple home page designs created by experts in the field of information design and website usability.

In contrast to the complexity and clutter found in many author sites, information is clearly and simply presented in websites of design professionals like Jennifer Tidwell.


Jennifer is the author of the widely acclaimed Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction. The book is a guide to help website and application designers design on the basis of usability, rather than aesthetics and preferences.

Although the home page initially presents a simple and easy-to-navigate image, the site actually contains numerous pages of helpful information that clearly positions Jennifer as a leader in her field.

Home page impressions

Information architecture and website usability are based on helping users and website visitors quickly locate the information they desire. Notice how the relatively short home page of Jennifer Tidwell’s website is divided roughly into three columns, separated by plenty of space:

  • Left-hand column. The left hand column–the first text visitors are likely to encounter and read–provides context. It lets the visitor know whose website they’re at, what the individual does, and how to contact them.
  • Middle column. As the visitors eyes move to the right, they encounter a brief paragraph explaining, in a conversational style, her areas of expertise and more information about the services she provides and for whom.
  • Right hand column. The remaining column is subdivided into 6 areas, including:
    • Patterns, information and samples from her book
    • Consulting Services (applications,  tasks, graphics)
    • Photographs, including slideshows from her numerous presentations
    • Patriots, article she’s written about her favorite sports team
    • Personal, including pictures, essays, and stories

What’s fascinating is that the density of detailed factual and “personality” information is high, but the overall effect of the home page is open and welcoming–thanks to the simple, open design of the page.

Learning from this site

Spend some time analyzing the layout and content of the home page, as well as the inside pages. Look beyond the obvious, i.e., the paticular colors and images used.

Instead, concentrate on the site’s overall organization and navigation. Notice how easy it is to locate the specific types of information her peers or prospects are likely to be interested in.

Compare the way information is presented in this site with the organization of your site. Look for ways you might be able to simplify the layout of your home page and make your site easier to read and easier to navigate.

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