Visitors expect online publications to have homepages filled with content, but too much is overwhelming.
The key is to help your client find the right balance of stories. An online publication isn’t limited to a set number of stories.
With some publications providing endless scrolling homepages and others limiting to just top stories, the only real rules are layout and design.
Limit Stories To Space
The number of stories isn’t the problem. A publication could list 200 stories with headlines only on their homepage. Most visitors would likely leave because the headlines would be difficult to read and distinguish from each other. A well designed layout with white space might only have room for 50 stories, but the stories would have a distinguishable headline and image. This leads to more reads per story for your clients’ sites.
Cramming stories in doesn’t work. When there’s no more space, that’s the limit. Obviously, this number could be changed by adding in scrolling or alternating sections with larger or smaller story blocks.
Find The Right Layout
Online publication layouts vary greatly. Two, three and four column layouts are common. Some sites even opt for endless scrolling while alternating between two to four columns throughout. With the right layout, a site could have over a hundred stories on the homepage. As long as the stories have some white space between them and the page isn’t hard to read, a higher number of stories is okay. Using layout plugins, such as Conductor, is an easy to edit the layout to match a client’s needs.
Choose A Set Number Per Category
Sites with set categories, such as latest news, tech, lifestyle and entertainment, find it best to limit the number of stories to a set number per category. This type of layout often involves using different colors for headlines for each category to better set stories apart. It also highlights the latest or best of each category on the homepage.
Work with your clients to choose a number that’s right for their audience. Sections could also be added for most popular, most shared or most recently added.
Add More With Sliders
Online publications with limited space might still want to add more stories. Adding several sliders throughout the homepage gives the site more space for stories without having to make the page longer or reduce the size of content sections. Sliders featuring 5-10 stories helps grab a visitor’s attention without seeming cluttered.
Using different sized sliders, such as a large banner style at the top and one half that size mid-way through, helps blend the sliders into the overall layout while still drawing attention to more stories. Advise your client that too many sliders could increase loading times and some visitors might not notice they’re are other stories loading in the slider.
Think About The Audience
The audience plays a large part in choosing how many stories are on the homepage. High traffic sites covering a variety of topics are usually expected to have quite a few stories on the homepage. The audience wants to have immediate access to the latest stories in each topic without having to click each individual topic category.
Smaller publications focused on more niche content might publish less frequently. They might publish five stories a day versus 75. Their audience is happy with seeing 10-20 stories on the homepage with larger headlines and images than 50-100 stories with smaller headlines and images. Consider the traffic and audience preferences when helping your client decide on a final number.
Consider Amount Of Content
The number of stories is limited based on how much content is included with each story. For instance, each story might only be a headline and an image. The stories could also be a headline with a one sentence tagline or description. Another option is a headline with a few sentences from the introduction.
The more content that goes with each story, the fewer stories that should be on the homepage. Too much text begins to look cluttered and the added text also starts to blend in with the headlines. Some publications mix up the strategy and only add a few line description to their top stories. The rest of the stories only have a headline. It all depends on what your client and their audience wants.
Your clients aren’t limited to a specific number of stories on their homepage. Every online publication is different and search engines don’t have any rules for how much content should be on the homepage. As long as the final design makes it easy to read each headline, the publication can have as many stories as it needs to give visitors a sampling of all the site has to offer.
Help your clients find the perfect layout for as many or as few stories as they want on their homepages. Install the Conductor plugin today and make layout changes easy.