I get asked a lot of “can we do this?” questions when working on site designs. I can answer that question, or I can encourage the client to take a different approach. I mean, let’s face it, the simple answer will almost always be, “yea, we can do this.” But the more helpful response would be, “yea, we can do that, but why would you want to do this?
For example, a client recently ask me this:
Is there anyway to make our home page into one big photo? So it’s just one big beautiful photo when you go to our home page and then the categories can be at the top? Something like this – https://www.hurleyhafen.com/
Sure you can do it, but again, a more helpful approach would be to consider why you would want — or not — want to do this.
Why Are You Online?
The first question to ask is, why are you online? You have or want a website, because you want to achieve something. What is it you want to achieve? Answer this and then consider design options that help you achieve your goal.
Are you an artist who simply wants to wow people with the visuals on your site? If yes, then perhaps having a home page with only one big image (or several scrolling images) might be just the ticket for you.
Are you running an e-commerce website with the goal of selling products? If yes, then having a home page with only one big image (or several scrolling images) is probably not for you.
Rather than be wowed with some new technique or by something you see on another site, first answer the question — Why am I online? — and then design from there.
A Quick Analysis
To put this in real terms, I want to return to the question posted above and look more closely.
First, notice how long the site with one big beautiful photo on the home page takes to load — https://www.hurleyhafen.com/
Takes over a minute for this site to load for me. Guess what — you’ve lost 99.9% of your potential visitors in the first 20 seconds! And then to wait a full minute and all I’ve got is a beautiful picture! I don’t know, maybe it works for a restaurant and vineyard, but most people aren’t going to wait around while this big beautiful image loads. Most people will be gone.
[Feb 22, 2018 – This site has been redesigned and now loads very quickly]
If you are running an online business, wow your visitors with a fast loading site that immediately gives them an opportunity to actually learn something about you (text on the home page) and to do something. Not just look at a pretty picture.
Now that’s not to say you can’t have some beautiful pictures on your home page; just make sure they load quickly and you have text or calls to action overlaying the pictures.
Take the Parallax Pro theme from StudioPress. Has some nice big pictures on the home page, but it also includes text and calls to action.
Or perhaps use a big, beautiful page background image like Simply Be Simply Yoga does.
Design with Purpose
See, I’m not saying you can’t have a beautiful site with big beautiful pictures, but first ask yourself — Why am I online? — and then design from there.
And always keep your visitors foremost in your mind. Give them what they want as quickly as possible.
So, why are you online?