Director of User Experience at Isotoma
17 May 2002 14:11pm
Firstly, a quick favour: Can anyone come up with any examples of sites which have the company logo centered at the top of the page? More specifically, within the retail sector?
To combine this request with a discussion point, could I also get people's thoughts on the pros and cons of doing this?
My own view: I'm a strong supporter of de facto standards on the web to make sites easier to use. This (and the stated recommendation of several experts) is of course a loud and clear endorsement for top left placing. However, I would argue that this is not a usability-critical issue.
The logo functions as a 'home' link, combined with a text 'Home' link in close proximity. The logo is uncrowded by banners or other navigational clutter. I'd say its dual function as site branding and home link is undiminished by its centered placing. One could even argue that the former is strengthened by its relative originality.
Anyone care to agree or disagree?
CEO at Econsultancy
20 May 2002 09:24am
We here at e-consultancy like our logos left centred AND across the rest of the page ;)
Interestingly, I cannot think of any examples of centred logos off the top of my head (retail or otherwise). I too would advocate adherence to web standards (unless there is a good reason otherwise) so left aligned would be the natural choice. I would also say that the logo can, and probably should, funtion as an alternate home link (not the case with e-consultancy I know...) though this must be an *alternate* link i.e. 'home' must be a clear option at the root of the navigational hierarchy.
So that said, can a logo (if uncluttered by banner ads etc. as you say) go centre? In theory it shouldn't be a problem and might, as you say, be quite distinctive. Hard to say without knowing the brand and seeing the actual design but I guess my biggest question would be around whether you propose a fixed versus fluid design for the main body content. I'm usually in favour of fluid (aka 'stretchy') designs where the content (at least in the main body area) stretches to fit the available space, catering for multiple screen resolutions and allowing users to 'size' the site according to their viewing preference.
If you have a centred logo and a stretchy design then a centred logo will move relative to how 'stretched' the design is. It will therefore also move relative to the core navigation and 'home' link. At high resolutions with a lot of white space either side of the centred logo I don't think it would feel like a natural 'home' link any more. I'm not sure this is a good thing from a usability point of view. With a fixed design this would be less of an issue but, as I say, I'm not usually a fan of fixed designs.
So in theory a centred logo is not a problem but in practice I would probably avoid it, though of course it really depends on the actual purpose, objectives, brand, design etc. in question.
Usability Manager at Nationwide B S
20 May 2002 10:26am
Nationwide's Logo is placed top right, it has acted as a homepage link for over 12 months. We have never recieved any adverse comments in Usability Evaluations about it's location or function.
You need to be very mindful of the branding issues when looking at this sort of thing, Nationwide typically puts it's Logo on the top right of correspondance etc. It therefore forms an integral part of branding when it's on the Internet.
Head of Usability at Nationwide
Digital Lead, Asia Pacific at Ogilvy
20 May 2002 11:49am
I can't think of many centre-logo sites... but Yahoo is an obvious contender. Moving away from the home page however the branding reverts to top left.
Centering the logo can leave redundant [valuable] space in top left and top right. If your site can afford the luxury of this green belt, all well and good. However, thinking about how important "space planning" is for driving sales in an offline environment, the same approach needs to drive the design of the online retail environment.
A quick search around top brand UK retailers - those who can "afford" to leave valuable space on their web sites free of clutter - brought up only Harvey Nichols as a "CLS"... Harrods, Bently, Fortnums all go either left (or right). My conclusion is therefore, that you are right, you do not have to follow convention. It's just that most people do.
On 14:11:08 17 May 2002 fjordaan wrote:
>Firstly, a quick favour: Can anyone come up with any
>examples of sites which have the company logo centered at
>the top of the page? More specifically, within the retail
>To combine this request with a discussion point, could I
>also get people's thoughts on the pros and cons of doing
>My own view: I'm a strong supporter of de facto standards
>on the web to make sites easier to use. This (and the
>stated recommendation of several experts) is of course a
>loud and clear endorsement for top left placing. However,
>I would argue that this is not a usability-critical issue.
>The logo functions as a 'home' link, combined with a text
>'Home' link in close proximity. The logo is uncrowded by
>banners or other navigational clutter. I'd say its dual
>function as site branding and home link is undiminished by
>its centered placing. One could even argue that the former
>is strengthened by its relative originality.
>Anyone care to agree or disagree?
Creative Director at Agenda Solutions
20 May 2002 14:44pm
Through my usual in-depth research process - quick check through the bookmarks - I didn't find any centrally positioned logos (how did I miss Yahoo!) unless you count the Telegraph Online which seems to follow the e-consultancy style guide expained by Ashley in his post (left centred AND across the rest of the page). Both e-consultancy and the Telegraph take the 'masthead' stance which is slightly different from a straightforward centred alignment, however even the FT which has an obvious, centrally-aligned (or -ranged) logo in the print version defaults to the left hand side when online.
Mind you, just because we can't find many doesn't mean it's wrong. My initial gut reaction is to feel uncomfortable with a centred logo - maybe that's a positive pre-conception for this particular design problem?
For me, a major component of bad design is when something appears superficial, unecessary, superfluous to requirements - if you have tangible functionality (and in this I'd include brand-value) allied to your central alignment then you're halfway to acceptability. However, if it is gratuitously 'different' for the sake of it you're heading towards a gimmick.
But then how would I know? I haven't seen it. My first reaction to any hypothetical creative problem is "Show me" - you could be James Joyce but you'll never describe a design better than you can show it.
The great part of being employed as a 'creative' is that despite all the structures and processes that we build, ultimately it is subjective - add in all the usability testing, focus groups and market research you can afford (and you should) but ultimately we are paid for subjective opinions. If you think it looks good in the centre and 'works' then go with what you feel. Design is a case-by-case process and although we've argued on e-consultancy for more 'de-facto' standards, 'rules' and processes it's as much about the freedom for us to then 'break' those rules according to the unique factors of each project - a case of guidance and suggestion rather than the scourge of 'must-follow' usability dogma.
There can be no single-definition for logo placement or virtually any other creative process, just proven standards - this brings us back to the 'usualbility' arguments and that's where I'd default to Don Norman:
"Usability is always secondary. It's never the most important thing about an experience. I will accept poor usability if I get what I need, if the total experience is great. I will reject perfect usability if I am not rewarded with a useful, engaging experience."
NB. I hear that Jakob-Nielsen's 'wedding-invitation-guidelines' insist the logo goes in the center ;)
Director of Nonsense at http://www.evilsabino.com
21 May 2002 18:09pm
Actually you know I can't really add anything further than the posts already here, except how did you miss Google!
Google's had a centred logo for years (although looking at it right now, they've kinda messed with this with a Dilbert cartoon)...
but yeah, nothing else to add other than to concur with Paul, however I would not that some do find Joyce a hard read - "you could be James Joyce but you'll never describe a design better than you can show it"! However Richard Hamilton did a fantastic job of showing Ullysses...
Multichannel Strategy Director at Specialist Holidays Group - TUI Travel
22 May 2002 16:41pm
I am sure you are all aware of this research, but interesting nonetheless:
Developing Schemas for the Location of Common Web Objects
Testing Web Sites with Eye-Tracking
The issue for me is not location, but consistency of location. However, my own anecdotal testing experience tells me that items placed in the top right are least noticed.
23 May 2002 12:49pm
>The issue for me is not location, but consistency of
Certainly something which I have adhered, however there is a very interesting point in the Testing Web Sites with Eye-Tracking article:
"On the other hand, all users immediately detected a change that narrowed the left column about 30 pixels (1/3 inch) and used a heavier font. Most users scanned this changed area as soon as it appeared and read the content. "
"This argues against the design strategy of using a consistent grid on all pages—it may cause users to miss content of interest. "
Personally, I'd argue with their conclusion here - I would have thought that the only reason that the testers noticed the change was that they were already used to the layout. If the layout of every page was different, it would detract from the effect, and I believe be somewhat tiresome. Also they fail to state whether this was the only change to the layout. I suspect it was....
Still, I do think it raises a good point, that by subtly changing an area of the page on rare occasions, you can make people rescan the page and thus direct people along whatever path you choose.
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