It’s funny how a design revolution can change rules that were once sancrosanct. Take page lengths, for example.

Once upon a time (say, 2006), Website pages were all about the scrolling Olympics. We’re talking pages 20 screen loads or longer.

That was great for content authors who refused to go on a word diet—and apparently didn’t care much if anyone was actually reading their stuff. These bad behaviors were enabled by one of our least favorite Website tools—page anchors (ugh).

Fade out to 2008 when two things happened: (1) better Web metrics proved visitors avoid these pages like the plague and (2) better content management systems allowed Web teams to enforce shorter pages. With these tools in hand, wide-stance short page designs came into vogue.

You can see examples of these designs today on the home and zone landing pages of most best-in-class Websites. Lower level pages are also trending to this shorter format. In this era, authors can yak for two screen loads, but not three.

 

In this era, authors can yak for two screen loads, but not three.”

This is a round about way to get to the following point: long pages are back again.

But unlike last time, this isn’t necessarily a big problem.

Why?

Because new white space designs make long pages a pleasure to navigate and read. Content is short & sweet. Fun to read. Double spaced. Set off with interesting and useful graphics.

In fact, we’d posit that, when white space designs are the issue, longer is actually better.

Since most teams haven’t made the transition to the white space revolution yet, this is a good time to wipe off the windows of your assumptions and plan accordingly. Pages are long; content is short. This will require new page templates and a new content strategy.

To see some of the best of the best in action, spend some quality time on the top levels of the IBM.com site, with special attention to its Smarter Planet, IBM Software zones—and the whole cult of personality it is building.

The evolution of a revolution

In 2006 long pages for SOP. Fade out to 2008 and the wide-stance, short page revolution kicked into gear. Today, white space designs are making long pages de rigeur again.

Category: Case Study

Class: Design trend, gamer changer inspiration & examples

Websites Profiled:  IBM.com, Adobe.com, Cisco.com, Juniper.net, Sun.com

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