Homepage layout matters. It affects what people view on a website and what they remember from the news.
Across a series of three experiments, we analyzed what happens when people are given the same news content presented in different ways. Some of our 2,671 participants browsed a site with a classic newsprint layout, while others looked at a page with a contemporary, modular and image-based layout. The same 20 articles, drawn from mainstream news media coverage about evergreen subjects, appeared on both sites.
The results were striking:
- Unique page views increased by at least 90 percent when participants viewed the contemporary homepage compared to the classic homepage.
- Recall of details from the articles, although low for all participants, nonetheless increased by at least 50 percent when participants viewed the contemporary homepage compared to the classic homepage.
- Study participants rated the contemporary site more positively than the classic site.
- Where the articles appeared on the page affected article recall more consistently than whether people clicked on the article.