yay for inverted design funnels!

This week I’ve been thinking about funnels. Not funnel cakes or anything tasty like that, but UX design funnels. Especially as they relate to homepages.

Too often, the homepage is looked at by stakeholders as a key area to ensnare audiences. It’s where you sell every morsel of yourself, make everything sing and be heard.

If you’ve sat through user testing, you’ve seen how overwhelming this approach is for real people. Even with the most kick-ass information architecture.

Funnels are fun!
Simple as sounds, stakeholders too often look at a homepage like it’s a funnel turned right-side-up. Like this:


Plop everything in front of your visitors, they think, and narrow as the experience progresses.

Really though, a site should look like an inverted funnel. Like this:


This means that the homepage should be narrow. Then the relevant information should pick up speed and grow as the user progresses though the site.

How to invert your site’s funnel
Research your users thoroughly before wireframing. What’s most important to them? Research similar sites in the industry. Which elements and information are given prominence? Do they match your customer’s needs? Where’s the crossover?

Based on this research, prioritize what and where information needs to go on your homepage.

Push back at those who say, “Well, this is important for x, y, z, double and triple z.” Yes, there has to be compromise for the sake of branding and merchandising. But if you toss too many sharp tacks at your users’ feet as they’re sprinting toward their core tasks, you’ve lost. Lost your customer and your mind.

Of course you never want to flood users with information – that’s not what should happen when you invert the funnel.

Never make your users fight to find what they’re looking for. Just be tactical and logical in the way you open the doors to things.

Vomit on pages
At the end of the day, strategic clicks are more appealing to users than informational vomit on pages. So let’s turn our funnels upside down. Start narrow, then open up. Like a fist un-clenching.


This post originally appeared on @michaelseidel‘s old blog, welterweightux, back in March ’10.

28. February 2012 by Michael Seidel
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