Tweaking the home page content and information overload

There is a good discussion of what the home page is intended to accomplish in Matt Mullenweg's 2010-07-14 thread (1,200 words) in WordPress Development Updates about his latest tweaking of its content.

Jon Brown's comment that you almost need a decision tree is an approach worth considering. Decision tree analysis is a technique to choose between several courses of action. (See the "decision tree" SER.) His comment identifies a key concern; namely, how can the user be guided through the information available so that he finds what he seeks without being overloaded with information not relevant to his goal or task.

One of the key concerns in designing a home page is information overload, an information architecture issue.

… implementing IA is a pragmatic activity. The result will not be seen as a whole, except by the architects, but will be used by many requiring information as part of their work. IA is a work in progress, given the rate of change in modern organizations, but with an overall plan and vision, its aim being to provide the relevant information to the right people at the right time.

A Brief History of Information Architecture, Information Architecture: Designing Information Environments for Purpose edited by Alan Gilchrist and Barry Mahon (excerpt (PDF), Google Books excerpt)

In another thread, 2010-07-08, Matt reported that he had made some changes to the home page to make the text more user-centric in the way Kathy Sierra described in her presentation, Kicking Ass and Creating Passionate Users (video).

From her video, here are some notes of questions to ask in order to focus on what she considers to be the key — what information is relevant to what the users want to do or accomplish? The more information that is provided that it not relevant, the more likely information overload will be the result.

She formulated that question is several ways:

  1. What is it that you do to enable or help users to kick ass?
  2. Don't build a better [x], build a better [user of x] (at ~15:00).
  3. What will this enable me to do?
  4. How can this help me good at —?
  5. How can we help user be better at —?

See Kathy Sierra's blog, Creating Passionate Users and, about her writing and blog, Where in the World is Kathy Sierra? — Or, the best tech writing blogger ever.

These issues were also raised in home page (2008-05-06), a Textpattern support forum thread. In particular, see Stuart's comment at the end.

Although dated in terms of the sites' current designs, the Design Critique: Blog Platforms (2008) post is a useful review.