Stats: Which Homepage Style Works Best for Membership Sites & Subscription Sites?

We’re in the midst of designing a new homepage for Subscription Site Insider’s main site and just like always, finalizing a wireframe is AGONIZING.

We’re in the midst of designing a new homepage for Subscription Site Insider’s main site and just like always, finalizing a wireframe is AGONIZING. I want to put everything plus the kitchen sink on there, and I want it all above the fold! Which is stupid because clutter confuses instead of converting, and the tiny type you’d need to shove more content in a small space is completely unreadable.How do other membership site and subscription site publishers decide on homepage design? The above chart is from SubscriptionSiteInsider’s Benchmark data study last summer when we reviewed 550 paid content sites with subscription business models.We noticed that most sites’ homepages fell fairly neatly into one of three categories:#1. Content-Focused: This category included nearly all sites from traditional newspapers, magazines and newsletter publishers as well as many Membergate-powered sites.   Their home pages were primarily filled with headlines and teasers for different articles behind the paywall.  It’s all about selling the steak instead of the sizzle, which is not to say it doesn’t work for them.#2. Longform letter: Often these sites tend to be about making money (on the Internet or by stock investing) or about body building. The homepage scrolls down FOREVER. If you printed it out, often it would be 10 or more pages of paper. There are calls to action every half-foot or so, and graphics such as testimonials and guarantees to catch your eye so it’s not just one endless stream of same-colored text. But it’s mostly text. The offer can be for a trial, but often it’s a hard offer pitching directly for the subscription.#3. Promotional/conversion-focused homepages: Nearly every dating site homepage is this way, as are most games and virtual worlds. My favorite example though is Netflix. Usually these pages fit it all in one screen. No or little scrolling. Aside from a tiny member log-in link in the upper right corner, the page is designed more like a marketing billboard (albiet interactive) than a content site. There’s one headline and it’s focused on the membership offer.  And there’s a conversion button or form, usually for a trial. Copy is brief, maybe a few bullet points.Would a dating site do better if it broke ranks and mimicked a content site layout? What about vice versa? Can you imagine a newspaper site with just a promotional homepage and no article headlines at all? There’s almost no data. Very few sites break rank with the site design of their peers. I’d love to see more test data on this.In the meantime, we base our design on specific research-based rules and hope for the best.

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