In Nublue Blog What makes a good Christmas homepage? Posted by Stefan Ah, Christmas. That wonderful time of year when TV suddenly gets brilliant, our living rooms mysteriously sprout trees and lights, and everyone has that extra little spring in their step. Even if it is induced by the grip of blind panic to acquire all the necessaries before our fellow shopper snatches them away. It’s pretty safe to say that Christmas is becoming more and more connected too. Mr and Mrs Bowker for example, of Cotley Farm in Devon, recently launched a click-and-collect service for their farm-grown Christmas trees – allowing customers to choose their favourite type and height of Christmas tree, pay online, and then choose their collection point to pick it up. Thereby avoiding the traditional last-minute tree hunt to avoid ruining Christmas. Like many things about Christmas that are moving online, it makes an immense amount of sense. Christmas shopping online According to Google, last year shoppers spent more time researching and purchasing online than ever before. 40% of festive shopping took place online, and 53% of folks who shopped online did so with their phones and tablets. Over half of consumers surveyed said they were open to buying from a new retailer – and, in a significant increase on 2013, 41% of customers actually did. When it comes down to brand loyalty versus price and delivery, it seems that shoppers are much more open to change. The evolution of the internet is giving us more choice than ever before, and consumer expectations are becoming more sophisticated – such as the need for trusted reviews on our purchases, and faster load times when we come to buy. For example, 47% of consumers expect pages to load within 2 seconds, according to KISSmetrics. With more and more consumer cash spent online, websites are upping their game in the design stakes. A well-designed Christmas homepage gives us that festive feeling, but it also works hard to convince us that this is the place to spend our money (without being overly busy, or presenting us with a chore.) With this in mind, we’ve been scouring the internet for our favourite festive homepages that don’t just do the job but do it well, and help to push web design forwards. Apple Apple knows design. That’s not remarkable news. What is remarkable is just how simple they can afford to make their Christmas homepage and still get people sold completely. A smart tagline is all it takes to set the tone, and the rest of the page is given over to let the products sell themselves. There are no deals; there’s no hard sell; there doesn’t need to be. For a lot of people an Apple product is their perfect Christmas present, and confidence in the brand is pretty much absolute. And when it comes to gift shopping, that’s all the persuasion a lot of people need. Booths Amidst the all-out media shouting match that is the British supermarkets’ Christmas, smaller chain Booths have done a commendable job of carving out their own niche away from the mainstream: the Great Northern Christmas. A stripped-back, unfussy homepage celebrates a more rustic, earthy vision of festive food, complete with a nod to the producers behind our feasts and a slightly more rugged Christmas tree display – on a good, honest, slatey, Northern background. Booths isn’t for every shopper, but its Christmas homepage doesn’t try to be. It’s speaking to a specific, established audience in words and visual language that they’re receptive to and that feels right to them. It’s that understanding that makes good web design. The Jewel Hut With a product made of gems and precious metals, its inherent value isn’t in question. Well-made jewellery can sell itself on its sheer worth and aesthetic. What our client, The Jewel Hut, does well on its homepage is communicate the emotional connection that goes with those products: the simple idea that you’re giving a gift that will bring happiness to someone you care about. That you’re celebrating a special moment that doesn’t come around every day. With a clean, simple look and minimal text to communicate the idea of celebration, the emphasis is more on bigger-than-lifesize products – while the use of Feefo stars and the retailer’s Google Certified Shop badge establish all-important consumer trust. Currys Warm and fuzzy and Christmassy it ain’t, but that doesn’t mean that Currys doesn’t have a well-designed Christmas homepage. (After all, you don’t tend to give someone a washer or a vacuum on Christmas day). This site doesn’t need to make people feel happy and cosy about the festive season; it needs to make them feel confident in the deal they’re getting on very practical appliances and electronics. With a lot of information to display on a lot of different products, Currys’ homepage product tiles do a clean, immediate, highly effective job of condensing disparate ranges and delivering the need-to-knows that customers are looking for: deals on trusted brands. Christmas Express At the opposite end of the festive spectrum is possibly one of the most Christmassy homepages ever created. Awwward-winning French site Christmas Express puts a thoroughly modern twist on the age-old tradition of writing a Christmas greeting – allowing you to customise your Christmas letter and track its progress, from the moment it’s created to the minute it reaches its recipient. Beautiful animated scenes flesh out the site’s single, quite straightforward process to turn it into a real experience; something you might actually imagine a family doing together at Christmas – while the use of minimised navigation links and full-screen imagery makes the site look more like an app than a multi-page website. The use of the .express GTLD is another nice design touch, giving the site a personal feel from the outset. Above all, the site’s look, feel and user experience combine to successfully translate simple pixels into a real emotional response in the user. That’s what lies at the heart of good web design, at any time of the year.