hub-bub: experience hubs can make or break a project

Not all pages are created equal. At least they shouldn’t be. An important driver for digital products (web sites, et al) is a clear perspective on what the hubs of the experience are. The hubs should be some of the most interesting screens and they should serve a purpose which is quite different than other supporting pages.

A hub page can serve as a point at which a user can take a step back and survey the scene before deciding the next move. It offers a chance to connect even the most complex array of content and information in a logical context.

Deciding on the hubs requires thinking of the most salient bits for which to provide a 360 view. What are the pieces of your experience that you want people to be able to examine, explore and kick the tires on?

Some examples:

  • New York Times: an obvious hub is an article. Introducing newer hub concepts like “Topics” was key to the experience. It provides a destination that drew a clear connection between articles.
  • cnn.com: cnn took the story itself and built a mosaic around the content. Each story is a single point of access to many different ways to get the information.
  • any vehicle site: the car is an obvious hub. Another important hub page is the type of vehicle. Some brands are seeing this as an opportunity to provide an experience at this hub rather than simply passing users through to the vehicles. there are also opportunities to build hubs around topics, or communities of owners.
  • Financial sites: a company or an industry are obvious hubs. Other hubs could revolve around a certain type of activity or analysis method. Sites like cakefinancial provide hubs based on people within a trusted network that you can build over time.
  • any product site: of course there is the standard product:solution relationship. I’m sure there are some other examples of harder working hubs.

There seem to be a few different types of hubs. Some which are concrete in nature – like a document, product, vehicle, etc. Some which are more conceptual – topics, popularity, solutions, etc.

Jared Spool took a look at the gallery pages as the hardest working pages on your site. Beyond just a product listing, creating smart hubs requires thinking about the different types of ‘galleries’ you wish to create.

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