LOTD: 10/3/07

  • I’m actually giddy about the fact that Matt Drudge has apparently stopped hotlinking. I’ve only been hoping for this since 2004. (TB)
  • Fake Steve Jobs is going on tour to promote his book. This has the potential to turn out very, very poorly and I’m fairly certain that’s what I’m hoping for, like watching to see if a squirrel gets devoured by a python. (CT)
  • Everyone is discussing the Techmeme Leaderboard and what it means. There’s probably more of a conversation going on about it, but it’s hard to hear when you’re outside the echo chamber. (CT)
  • Steve Johnson defends himself and the Chicago Tribune from a completely pointless attack by Gawker and makes some really good points about how newspaper bloggers need to adapt and fit in to the communities they’re writing about. That comes at the same time that sister publication the Los Angeles Times is said to be on the verge of launching a slew of new blogs. (CT)
  • The New York Times looks at commenting and how it can be used as a powerful personal branding tool. (CT)
  • Finally, the Cubs begin their playoff run tonight, a run that won’t be televised on WGN and starts at 9PM Central, thereby ensuring only cable customers who don’t mind being half-dead at work tomorrow will be watching. And, as a bonus for Chicago papers, the game will likely end too late to get the score in tomorrow’s edition. Fantastic plan. (CT)

Quick Takes: 10/3/07

  • filmstrip.jpgThe opinion of a Lehman Brothers analyst is that online episodic video is a growth field. Studios and their marketers should pay attention to that, since episodic video installments can be an interesting way to build buzz – and backstory – for a movie as it nears theatrical release.
  • Yari Film Group is one of the sponsors of Battle of the Bands, a new Nickelodeon movie featuring their Naked Brothers Band. Yari will use the spots to promote their movie The Final Season, a new inspirational sports flick.
  • A new research report shows entertainment companies – including movie studios – may be poorly positioned to take advantage of the potential income from deployment of their content across wireless and other platforms. To right that, the report urges companies to more deeply partner with wireless carriers, who know their customers and know how to reach them.
  • Wells points out that poster designers seem to love the image of Naomi Watts with running tears and or mascara.
  • Anne Thompson mentions off-handedly that the marketing for Sweeney Todd has, to date, been Sondheim-less.

Safe at home

Two headlines recently appeared within minutes of each other in my Google Reader feeds.

  1. Barnes & Noble.com revamps home page
  2. Do home pages have a place in Web 2.0’s future?

I love it when things like this happen. I really do. Because it shows that at the same time one party is trying its best to adapt and improve on the old model someone else is wondering whether that model is even still valid. It’s this sort of thing that makes people question their assumptions and really drives some serious thinking.

While the first story is interesting – B&N has added a number of features like search clouds and video on the front page – the second story is the one that really stands out. Essentially, a new study from Avenue A/Razorfish shows that search is the beginning point for about 54 percent of online shopping experiences. That calls into question the importance of home pages overall, since through search people are landing right on the page for the product (or story, or whatever) they were looking for, bypassing the home page layout completely.

While the study’s authors make the excellent point that what’s increasingly important is what’s NOT happening on the site (think widgets, links and more) I still think there is a point where home pages continue to serve a vital and important role, just maybe not the one they’re serving now.

The role of the homepage should be simple: Help the visitor find what they’re looking for. The problem is that pages are getting mucked up with flashy graphics and other junk data that is getting in the way of that experience. If there’s a model for the homepage it should be the sitemap. It’s clear, uncluttered and fairly simple to navigate. When people get lost on the site they should be able to hit the “Home” tab to reboot their visit and start fresh in finding what they’re looking for.

It should also provide the tools so that the visitor never has to come back to it unless they specifically want to. That means RSS feeds, email newsletter signups and other things that will let people get the information on their time instead of needing to hit the site for it.

Homepages are important – You have to do something with that pricey .com after all. But its use should be make the site experience as elegant as possible, not as a showcase for the graphic design department. If you’re hoping people will read/watch/buy on your site then the homepage is your first opportunity to make sure that happens.