How newspapers can survive in the age of free content

Sales funnel newspaper problemWay back in the day, I used to report the news in a daily newspaper. I learned a lot but moved into other forms of writing when I felt more like an ambulance chaser than a journalist. That was before the web. Today, it’s interesting to watch the newspaper industry on life support trying to figure out how to stay alive.

The problem is fundamentally a sales funnel problem: How does a newspaper exchange its information for money? In Lauren Indvik’s May 26th Mashable article, entitled “5 Ways to Monetize the Future of News Media“, she offers us the methods that we are seeing news media experiment with online today: Fully paid, partially paid, metered, free, and advertisement. I gave a similar list of pricing ideas in January, some of which can apply to the news media industry.

There is usually a dichotomy between how newspapers distribute content online and how they distribute content offline: Paid offline newspapers shouldn’t give the same content for free online. And, free offline newspapers shouldn’t require payment online for the same content. But that’s what was happening for a while. And it’s more challenging when the same information is available in other sources for free.

Newspapers were once the only way to get the news and it was convenient to pay for them to show up on your doorstep in the morning. But between Google News and Twitter, people can stay pretty well informed up-to-the-minute while newspapers lag behind the story by a full day.

Once lucrative parts of newspapers (like premium advertising space and classified ads) are being replaced: There isn’t much limit to online adspace and classified ads have been cornered by craigslist and kijiji, which provide cheaper ads and a better reach.

Newspapers report on the news. For years, when something happened, the newspaper informed you. That made sense when the newspaper was the only means of carrying the news. And even when televised news expanded to 24-hour news stations, newspapers still had a place. But today, people can get whatever news they want – international, local, niched to their interests – faster and for free. Newspapers cannot compete with that.

Instead, I believe that newspapers need to adopt a different approach between online and offline. Online, they can continue to report the daily news, especially with a local focus (and especially if no one else is reporting locally). Local news is valuable. They can make it free (with advertising).

But offline, they need a different approach and this is not going to be widely accepted by newspapers because it will change how their staff have to work: Offline, newspapers need to adopt the model used by The Economist. That is, they need to go after the deeper story, the story behind the story, and provide insight, not just information.

Offline newspapers have traditionally just told us what’s going on, reporting the news as it happens. This isn’t a surprise because underpaid, overworked journalists have to run from car accidents to quilting bees to report on everything. They don’t have time to find the real story and they don’t have time to dig. They’ve focused on What, Where, When, Who, and How, and they’ve completely neglected Why.

Here’s how to make it work: Newspapers need a group of journalists to gather and report on local news in the way they’ve always done it and post it for free online. And, they need a group of investigative journalists doing the digging to find the real story to provide in a paid, printed format.

This offline, printed newspaper story needs to dig; it needs to push beyond merely informing readers and actually provide real insight; it needs to even go so far as to advise, forecast, and recommend. Print newspapers can’t just be a mirror anymore. They have to be a guide to living.

This change will not be welcome. It will come at a great cost. It won’t return newspapers to their heyday. But I believe it’s the only way that local (print) newspapers are going to survive.

[Photo credit: Tom T]

I’m not stalking Chris Brogan: An unauthorized look at Chris Brogan’s evolution

Did you know that Tom Hanks earned $800 in his very first credited work as an actor? It was for the movie He Knows You’re Alone (1980). In Splash (1984) he earned $70,000. In Big (1988) he earned $2,000,000. In Forrest Gump (1994) he earned $70,000,000 after you factor in the profit participation. He now regularly commands $20,000,000 wages plus profit participation for his movies. (Source:

So, what did he do after his first job in 1980? Until his five-figure payday from Splash, he put in time as an actor with bit appearances in Happy Days, Taxi, and The Love Boat. His success seems rapid on paper. But there were 24 years and a lot of hard work (and some good movies and some bad movies) between his $800 payday and his $70,000,000 payday. Bottom line: He worked hard, had a couple of tipping points, and is super-successful today.


Chris Brogan
Image by BryanPerson via Flickr

I think about business growth. A lot. I’m fascinated by the elements that work together to help a business succeed. Not a lot successful people have chronicled their rise to success so thoroughly, but Chris Brogan gives us a unique look at success. As a prolific blogger and social media maestro, he has basically recorded his business growth and we can slice open his blog and count the rings to figure out the elements that helped to make him as successful as he is today.

Encounter #1: I first heard of Chris Brogan (or, at least his blog) just over a year ago. I was talking to my good friend @JeffreyPriebe about my desire to do some professional speaking. Jeffrey is a helpful send-you-a-great-page-he’s-just-read kind of guy and he sent me a link to a blog post by someone named “Chris Brogan”, whom I had never heard of before. (Sorry, Chris). The post is “How to Start Speaking at Events“, which is a classic Brogan read, and something that aspiring speakers should read. That was encounter #1.

Encounter #2+: Although I’ve been on some social media for years (blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook), I was just starting to get into Twitter and encountered way more of Chris Brogan there. He was on my radar so frequently that I would click over to his blog to read it from time to time. By June 2009, he was one of my must-read blogs. By November 2009 he was one of a few blogs that I read daily (and that is a coveted place to be in my feedreader).

I found his work to be compelling, insightful, approachable, and prolific, which are the very things I aspire to be. Not surprisingly, many others have found the same thing because, according to, he gets something like a bazillion visitors to his site:

So, Chris has had all this impressive success but he didn’t start out this way. He put in the effort and hard work to get where he is. I looked into the rearview mirror of my time-traveling DeLorean to see how Chris got to where he is today.

I should also make the disclaimer here that I am no Brogan expert and this is completely unauthorized and based purely on my own observation.

So, where did it all begin? (the “Wayback Machine”) has an archive of going back to October 18, 2000. There aren’t any images in the archive but you get the idea. The title of the page is “Chris Brogan Short Stories”.

I guess Chris went through a couple of blog iterations before landing on Blogger around March 2004. You can see an archived copy of that blog here but he later ported it over to WordPress and it is the very first post on his blog in its current form.

Okay, that’s the history. But enough with the old blog versions. I have stuff like that floating around the web, too and it’s not always flattering. Here’s my point: Chris has profusely chronicled his life and we can view his rise to success and learn from it. I’ve reviewed his blog closely and below I’ve list the key transitions in his life (according to his blog, at least), as well as the critical tipping point for him. I also list the approximate events and/or blogs that are related to those transitions/tipping point or that build on them:

He started blogging (in this “version 3.0” iteration, at least) primarily about health and fitness with some personal development mixed in. From March 2005 to July 2005 he stuck to that theme, with the rare digression. But I think his first real transition was on July 14, 2005. In the blog on this date he seems to have put his first “stake” in the ground and he wrote about what else there was to talk about. This blog post, in my opinion, marks a key transition when he moved to something far more intentional on his blog. Read his July 14, 2005 blog post called “Slag”. In fact, read all of his July entries. I think that was a key month for him. A “time to start thinking beyond right now” month. In the months that follow, he still talks about fitness and personal development, but we see more of the Chris Brogan we’re familiar with today. Read this key post from July 18th, too.

Until February 2006, Brogan had been blogging a lot about himself and his own thoughts. Not selfishly, but rather about his own ideas and opinions and experiences. Around February 2006, there is a shift, and you definitely notice it in his post on February 3, 2006 called “Give Something Useful”. After this point, he seems to be primarily intentional in adding value to his blog-reader’s lives. (Yes, he added value before but not to the degree to which he was intentional about it after this point, in my opinion). It also shows that even four years ago, Brogan was still thinking along the same lines he is today.

I also noticed something else at this point: He seems to have acquired more faithful and responsive followers. Up until this point, his posts might not have any comments, or perhaps one here or there. But now, we start to see more. There might be a couple of posts with zero comments and then a couple with between 1 and 3 comments. In other words, we see that his small audience is growing… and responding. A rough thumbnail count reveals an average of 1 comment per post (and, from what I can tell, most of these comments seem contemporary to the time of posting and not just Brogan fans who have delved into the archives).

In his February 14 2006 blog, “Collected Files — Any Thoughts?” he mentions a free ebook he’s offered on his site that has been downloaded by “just under 20” people. A couple of weeks later, Feb 23 2006, Chris mentions that his Feedburner has hit 50 subscribers. (FYI: I’m writing this just over 4 years later and he has over 46,000 subscribers right now).

Chris was blogging very seriously up until this point but it’s around here that he officially started to switch from “a guy with a blog” to “a guy on a mission”. On March 14, 2006, in a post called “Countdown to What?”, he talks about getting 100 people per day to his site. This particular post solicits feedback from his followers about his various channels and sites and he is clearly thinking about what comes next.

And in a follow-up post on the same day he says “Things are going to really explode in 2006!”

By about July 2006, Brogan is getting comments in nearly every post. Some posts don’t have any comments but the ones that do have multiple comments have 3 to 6. Also, on July 11, 2006, he mentions that he acquired 100 new subscribers on Feedburner.

Throughout his blogging, Chris is fairly straightforward about his business aspirations and corporate dissatisfaction. And you see him starting little “side businesses” that are meant to generate additional revenue. But then, on July 18, 2006, he turns his attention to a “new media” project he calls “Grasshopper New Media.” There were seeds of it leading up until this point but July 18, 2006 seems to be the actual, official crystallization of those ideas. Read his blog post “Old Business vs. New Business” and then “Grasshopper New Media“. Oh, you should also read this post in which Brogan reflects on the contributing factors that inspired him to start a business.

And on July 20th, 2006, his Feedburner reached an average of 250 subscribers. And by August 25, 2006, Chris is busy with a ton of projects.

At this point, we start to see the next phase of Brogan: “Chris on the move.” He quits his job to start working for PulverMedia, he’s starting to get quoted in media, he’s interacting with other communities, and he’s showing up in different places on the web and around the country. In addition, he creates PodCamps with Christopher S. Penn.

On October 19, 2006, we see an interesting step in the Chris Brogan story: The first mention (that I can find, anyway) of one Julien Smith… the same J.Smith who 4 years later collaborated with Brogan on his Trust Agents book. (Read the October 19, 2006 post entitled “Julien Smith”).

Back when I had clients asking me “what are podcasts?” and “tweeting” was still something that birds did, Chris Brogan was early-adopting. On November 8, 2006, Chris signed up to Twitter. Read his explanation of Twitter at this blog post. Even though it would be years before Twitter reaches the level of mass adoption that would help to make Brogan’s success, I think this initial foray into the media is noteworthy.

Throughout the months that follow, Chris seems to switch from posts of intentional value to blogs in which he interacts with his growing community. He’ll blog about someone else’s post; he’ll blog about a vlog series he’s enjoyed; he’ll blog about a dinner he’s had with colleagues. This is an interactive time for him. Then slowly he starts to find a balance again (in early January 2007) between value-adding posts and interactive posts.

By about March 2007, Brogan is writing about Twitter in about every third post and within a couple of months that transitions into a regular discussion of social media: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.

In 2007, Brogan is clearly building on every success and you can see things growing. He’s busy at conventions, he’s active on Twitter, he’s conversing with people. In August 2007, he has 1000 Feedburner subscribers.

Also worth reading at this point is his own mini autobiography written because of the increasing attention he was getting. People familiar with his work won’t discover any major surprises in it but it’s well worth the read to get an overall view of how Chris is positioning himself and who he considers the influences in his life.

Around the middle of September 2007, Chris’ blog posts changed “flavor”. Up to this point, there was a real mix between what he was doing and thinking, interaction with others, even a “Happy Birthday Mom” in there somewhere. But around the middle of September 2007 (I think it happened on September 13), a light bulb went on and he rolled up his sleeves and got down to the serious business of using his blog as a tool of social media advisement.

The very next day he blogged about some upcoming construction he would be doing on his site (because it was forwarding to another URL). And then, his blogs became serious. I don’t mean painfully, boringly serious. I mean serious as in: A greater majority of posts deliver intentional advisement on successful social media use. (Of course, we saw these earlier but never with the same ferocity).

September 19 was a huge day for Brogan. Until this point, most of his blogs would get 2-20 comments. Sometimes more, but generally around there. Then, on September 19, 2007, Chris wrote a blog post called “100 Blog Posts I Hope You Would Write“. Scoble picked it up, as did Digg and Delicious, and there are 259 comments on that post as of this writing.

In October, Brogan enjoys related success with another list: “100 PodCamp Topics for You to Cover“, which has 104 comments currently.

On November 13, 2007, Brogan posted a blog post about resigning (on good terms) from Pulvermedia and on November 15 he started working at Crosstech Media as VP of Strategy and Technology.

We also see another measurement of Chris’ adoption: On December 2, 2007, he tweets his ten thousandth tweet. That’s 10,000 tweets before most people have even heard of Twitter. And on December 4, we see a continuation of Brogan as social media advisor: He commits to writing his next 100 posts on providing tips, tactics, and ideas to help people more effectively use social media.

One metric we can use is Google Trends. Searches for “Chris Brogan” have increased, as you can see:

We can see the first big spike in news in the middle of 2008 (which Google has labeled “A”). That “A” is linked to a page that is no longer available, although the title of that page is. From MarketWatch: “Social Media Expert Chris Brogan to Speak on Blogs, Social Networks, and More at First Inbound Marketing Summit”. Indeed, Brogan speaks at 4 different events that June.

I should also point out here that Brogan might have broken a record with a blog post called 50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Business. It has 330+ comments, some as recent as just a few days ago. I suspect this blog ranks well and is linked to frequently, and possibly brought a lot of Twitter followers into the Chris Brogan fan club through 2009.

There is also a mention on August 22, 2008 about the book he is writing with Julien Smith. I don’t think this is the first mention of it but I think it’s the first most prominent mention. And, with the amount of speaking and travel Brogan does (i.e., in March 2009) it’s not surprising to see his name trending the way it does.

Now take a look at the jump just past the 2nd quarter of 2009: Boom. Tipping Point. Easily his biggest. That’s the book.

He blogged about it frequently in the critical “marketing months” leading up to publication, and that likely accounted for an increase, but on August 24, the book officially went on sale.

That changed a heck of a lot of things. Attention for Brogan jumped, of course, Blog comments rose to an average of 50 per post. And his posts became even more honed and focused on successful social media.

From that point on, blog comments grew and frequently range from 50 to 200, depending on the topic. Brogan’s schedule remains hectic. He works with 2-3 clients a month, runs New Media Labs (which grew out of CrossTech Media) and speaks frequently. He has hinted that he has other projects lined up for 2010.

I’m actually wondering if we’re seeing another tipping point here. A personal tipping point for Brogan. Time will tell if this is the case, but here’s why I’m thinking this: On February 26, 2010, Brogan introduces an idea of “Anywhen” as he expresses frustration over people trying to connect with him on numerous connection points (i.e. via Twitter and via email) simultaneously. He later writes an Anywhen Manifesto. Brogan is well connected in various media and this makes him easily accessible. For people who are trying to get noticed, it’s the right thing to do. But for someone like Brogan who is now noticed and frequently relied on by paying and non-paying listeners, that accessibility can be too much. (I’m not saying that he’s going to shut down his Twitter account or anything like that, but I’m wondering if he’s going to start putting some distance between himself and his community). Time will tell, but I’m just putting it out there as a possibility.

Update: In a recent blog post, Brogan talks more about this challenge. And he says it well: I had originally called this transition “Chris Brogan Pulls Back” but I realize now that I misspoke. He’s not pulling back; he just needs to redefine his connectedness in light of the increased attention he’s getting.

Not a lot of successful people have so thoroughly chronicled their lives as they rose to fame. But we are fortunate to be able to look through Chris Brogan’s archives to see exactly what he was doing and thinking at each major point in his success.

There is a lot we can learn from Chris Brogan’s ascension.

  • Work hard: Chris posts a lot, he flies everywhere, he speaks a ton. He’s tireless. He basically says as much in this blog post, which is the first of a series called “Overnight Success”.
  • Be consistent: Chris blogs regularly. Like nearly every day. That keeps him in your feedreader; it brings readers back for more.
  • Be persistent: Chris has been blogging forever (or thereabouts). Notice how things took off for him at his tipping point in 2009, and they were rising earlier than that, but years before he was still knocking out blogs.
  • Be willing to change: Yes, in spite of the “be consistent” and “be persistent” tips above, Chris shows us that you need to be willing to evolve. He started writing stories. Then blogging about fitness. He’s come a long way and we can be sure that his journey was not charted back when he was a guy trying to run a marathon.
  • Be real: Chris does a good job of letting himself come through in his blogs. There’s little doubt that the Chris you read is the same Chris you’ll meet in person. Once in a while he has a “Happy Birthday Mom” post in there; that helps.
  • Put yourself out there: This is a corollary to the above “be real”. Chris doesn’t always hit homeruns and he doesn’t always do everything perfect. He’s messed up. I don’t agree with all of his positions on various things. And, with a growing audience comes a fair amount of detractors. But that doesn’t stop him.
  • Connect with others: Chris has done a great job of connecting with others. It seems to have started with reading and reviewing other people’s blogs and commenting on them, and then it became far more intentional as he started attending more and more camps and conferences.
  • Start lots of things: We read how Chris started little side businesses, Grasshopper Media, PodCamps, and more. There were others that I didn’t mention, like Dad-O-Matic. I sense that there are other things in the pipeline right now. Chris is always planting seeds and I think he’s getting better and better at planting the right seeds and cultivating them at the right time.
  • Be an early adopter: Chris was on Twitter before most of us were. He’s tried other things, too. Not all of them panned out but he tried them.
  • Be a passionate adopter: Chris tweeted 10,000 times before most people had heard of Twitter.
  • Build upon your successes: Chris doesn’t have one success a quarter or one success a month and go on to something else. He finds what works and he sticks with it, doing the same smart things over and over.
  • Add value: While not every post is a direct “here’s how to be more successful” post, most of Chris’ posts are highly practical guidance for success in social media and business.
  • Be prepared to redefine what you do: If necessary, change what you do or how you do it so that you can do it more effectively.

See the list above? Take a look at what you do in your business. It doesn’t have to be specific to blogging or Twitter. But you probably work through some kind of media. Regardless of what it is, consider how you can reflect these qualities in your business. What can you do to grow your business?

The success might not come tomorrow or the day after. It can take years. Years! But persevere through those years anyway and someone might be writing about your transitions and tipping points.

The Leno Hole: Why it will cost NBC far more than they realize

The front entrance of the NBC Tower at 454 N. ...
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Leno/O’Brien. It has dominated the news for a couple weeks now and I confess that, even though I’m more of a Letterman-viewer myself (on the odd occasion when I watch TV), I’ve been drawn to the debate and have even tuned in to see Leno or O’Brien and to watch how they are dealing with (and joking about) the situation.

Today, Conan O’Brien cashes out of NBC with a $45 million dollar deal-breaking payout. Leno moves back to “his” spot. And now there’s a big gaping “Leno hole” at 10.

For a brief period, ratings will spike as people watch to see what happens (I’m tuning in and I barely care). Then ratings will decline, probably close to the levels where Jay left them when he moved to his primetime spot. Maybe slightly lower.

For some, it will be business as usual:

  • Letterman will make some wiseass comments to get a laugh but then continue chugging along. There’s no win (he won’t gain more viewers from this) but no loss, either.
  • The advertisers will get a slight spike in attention for the few weeks that we’re all tuning in but then it will go back to business as usual for them. Meh.

And some come out as clear losers:

  • Conan gets $45 million but will be remembered as the guy who got ousted from the Tonight Show for tanked ratings (whether or not those were his fault). Actually, since it’s been reported that he shared some of his money out of his own pocket with his staff, he might actually be positioned as benevolent in spite of the circumstances.
  • Leno gets his old job back but will be perceived as petty and vindictive (even if it wasn’t him that initiated the change and he’s doing his best to make it appear that way).

In both cases, this will appear as a “you might remember” factor on every write-up about them in the future.

And, although I’m not in show business, I am in business and work with people all the time on improving communications or using content to solve situations. I would make these recommendations to Jay Leno: Have Conan on your show one day. Soon. Keep it light and fun, make fun of NBC, get seen together smiling. It will be good for BOTH parties. Or, they need to both go to Haiti at the same time and work together. I’m not kidding. That will kill any future story of animosity (and help the people of Haiti while also refocusing the spotlight where it should be).

But NBC is screwed

There is no way that NBC can come out of this unscathed. They’ll make some money on the advertising spike, but that’s about it. They’ll seem foolish for initiating the whole debacle by moving Leno from a place where he was very good to primetime timeslot. They’ll seem like they are jumping the gun a little for reacting to Leno’s and O’Brien’s ratings only 4 months into the shows. They’ll seem cold-hearted for removing O’Brien. And they’ll seem like they don’t know what they are doing by putting Leno back to where he shone. And, they’ll seem foolish for spending millions and millions of dollars to pay off Conan O’Brien and to fill what I’ve dubbed “The Leno hole” — that primetime spot that will now be filled by Law & Order re-runs. Oh, and when Conan gets a new job, NBC will be the butt of nearly every joke (in the same way that GE is for Letterman).

Ultimately, it is going to cost them. A lot. Bad PR, millions in “fix-it” money, and an erosion of viewership. They are almost exactly where they were several months ago, just $45 million lighter (and potentially way more than that if they decide to spend good money on filling the 10pm Leno hole).

This is a classic case of corporate blundering in an attempt to fix a previous error. And they are either going to try to spin it (bad idea) or ride it out without saying anything and hope for the best (a slightly less bad idea).


Wired is one of those magazines that I always mean to read but never seem to get around to. Not sure why — other stuff always seems to be slightly more pressing, I suppose.

A friend put me onto an article by Wired’s Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson (who you might remember as the author of The Long Tail, which is essential reading in my opinion). This guy’s smart. Listen to what he has to say.

The article, “Free! Why $0.00 is the Future of Business“, talks about why giving stuff away for free is good for business. And it’s not referring to the calender you get from your local real estate agent each year.

The article opens with Gillette’s impact on the marketplace (he gave away razor handles and made a fortune on disposable blades). We’ve seen a similar phenomenon with computer printers that are nearly free while the ink cartridges cost a fortune.

The last half of the article outlines a taxonomy of 6 categories of free offers. The article is long-ish, but you need to read this part. It’s gold. Read it and think about how a free offer might impact your business. You might be surprised.

(On a side-note, my favorite line comes from off-beat genius Stewart Brand in 1984: “Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be expensive … That tension will not go away.“… Brilliant!).

This is interesting, particularly because of an article in The Guardian in which the Financial Times editor said that “almost all” news sites will charge for content within the year. It might happen as a desperate move by some but as long as we have citizen journalists, Twitter, and a competitive environment where content is offered free as a way to attract eyeballs, we’ll have free content. The only way that the media can charge for their content is if they can prove that they deliver more insight (or some other kind of value) than bloggers/tweeters/free news sites. The Economist does this well right now, and so does Harvard Business Review. But there aren’t a lot of others, I think.

To bring this back to the Business Diamond Framework: Traditional Newsmedia isn’t delivering enough on the Value-Add Diamond to be able to sell anything on the To-Market Diamond; and their Support Diamond is so bloated that their costs are way too high.

Content is only king when there’s context

“Content is king”. That is a rule of thumb adopted by website creators because they know that high quality content helps to attract and retain customers by positioning the company and by building relationships with people.

Seth Godin, in his excellent free ebook Everyone is an Expert, says that people aren’t searching for anything online… they’re going online to make sense (page 9). That’s a brilliant distinction and it supports the belief that content is king. We need content to help us make sense.

It used to be that content would get piled on top of content on the first page. Website owners wanted links to many things on their first page to help position the company as the expert. They wanted people to click to their home page and see that there were many options to choose from.

But lately, things are changing. Businesses still know that content is king — that people will still go to their site to find trustworthy information to help them make sense. But those businesses are beginning to realize that overwhelming people with links on the first page is not the way to greet prospects and customers.An excellent example to show this difference can be found by comparing the websites of software giants Oracle and SAP.

Here is a screenshot of Oracle‘s home page.


It’s not easy to tell from here but there are 72 “primary” links on this page (“primary” meaning highlighted in the main body of the page, not the smaller ones in the the header or footer). 72! That is a lot for any web visitor to read through even if they are sorted the way Oracle has them.

Here is SAP‘s home page.


Again, it’s hard to tell at this size but there are 10 primary links (with only 5 ever showing at a time).

What a difference! Oracle’s page has an overwhelming number of links that could turn off any prospect or customer. SAP, on the other hand, has a simple, clean site with only a few links.

In my mind, SAP has made a huge change. My advice to Oracle? Better fix your site quickly!

It is so important to guide your visitors rather than to simply present them with all of their options at the beginning. The whole web 2.0 environment has a clean look with much fewer links. Just click to web 2.0 companies like Skype, Facebook,, Flickr, and LinkedIn to see how these companies are using a minimal amount of links to greet customers.

The point of this blog is not to simply suggest that your homepage should have fewer links. Rather, it’s to illustrate much more important concepts:

  • People want to be guided. They think they want all of the options but they really don’t. They want a way to get to the right options quickly. The thinking used to be that businesses give all the options up-front to reduce clicking through a long content pathway from one page to the next. But people would rather click for quick sorting and clear, “bite-sized” content. It creates longer content pathways (by requiring more pages on a site) but it makes choosing easier because each click narrows the choices they have to make.
  • Content is only king if it is useful. If content is presented en masse, it requires effort and it can be difficult to place that content within a context. Content becomes more useful when it is presented in manageable pieces within a context. And that context is created with high-level choices presented to the website visitor right on the homepage.