Last week I attended the Internet Summit in Raleigh and heard something remarkable. John Kosner, the Senior Vice President and General Manager of ESPN Digital Media, was interviewed about some of the changes and decisions made in the process of creating the Internet's dominant cross-platform sports brand. He revealed that about a year ago they did some focus groups (remember those?) on their home page, and learned that their home page was too cluttered, too difficult to navigate and had far too much going on. As a result, they redesigned their home page to fit three principles: Easy to find, Easy to use, and Easy on the eyes.
As a direct result of this redesign, revenues for the site increased 35%.
That's 35%. In a very, very tough year.
Design matters. It isn't about making a pretty website. It's about removing the barriers on your site to what, exactly, you want your visitors to do when they get there. It's a subject I've addressed many times to my traditional media clients, but nothing beats evidence from the cash register. The vast majority of radio station websites seem to want us to do everything at once, instead of welcoming visitors with something clean and inviting, then sorting out why they came and how we can help them.
Most of radio's digital initiatives have, for example, centered around driving people back to station home pages--but what exactly awaits them when they get there? If you could get your site visitors to do one thing when they landed on your home page, what would it be? How could you address that one thing in a redesign of your site?
To quote Steve Martin, if I could get two wishes this holiday season, the first would be for the stuff about world peace and the kids, but the second would be for the industry to stop building flashy, blinky eyeball bleeders like this, and imagine what design could be like if we first focused on them, not us.
Note: originally posted on my work blog at InfiniteDial.com, but relevant in this space as well.