Psychotic Home Page Design Syndrome

In an earlier post I referred to the tendency of a site’s home page to speak volumes about the character and and principles. I call this Psychotic Home Pager Design Syndrome. There are a couple of great examples of this, but the ones that stand out best to me are sites like,, and Imagine you are someone coming to the home page of one of those sites looking for a very specific product. Imagine trying to find that product in the mess of boxes and links and images and ads. It’s impossible.

One might argue that these companies have tons of products, and the home page reflects the need to have their most successful products featured and touted. Exactly. Having worked at, I can tell you exactly how this happens. You have 2 distinct business units with shiny products that represent some business interest. You have 2 product managers who equate sales of their product with the size of their year end bonus. You have endless campaigning to have your product featured on the home page, where it will get the most traffic. You have exactly 1 CEO who doesn’t really want to have the product managers draw short straws because, afterall, it’s just pixels on a page. So the end result is a mish-mash of products and services that speaks more to the internal structure of the company than to usability.

Contrast this to a company that gets a lot of fanboys/good press – 37Signals. I won’t go into details here about my thoughts on the 37Signals hype (that should tell you enough), but for a company with a good smattering of products their home page is simple and usable. In the context of what we know of the internals of their company, this makes a ton of sense.

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