Credit Suisse : Squandering striking design

A bold home page loses sight of how visitors view it.

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The Site

Credit Suisse, a Switzerland-based global financial institution, condemns many visitors a cropped view of its bold photographic home page. Credit Suisse uses frame-filling images on the home page of many of its country sites, most notably the USA site, where the picture is changed on refreshing or returning to the page using a bank of five different advertisement-style shots. The image provides a background on which the skeletal home page navigation is overlaid. Each image carries a large headline along with a standfirst and a link to find out more about the featured topic. However, when viewed at full screen size on a range of browser/operating system combinations, right-hand and lower portions of the image are concealed, meaning the horizontal and vertical scroll bars are needed to view it all. On Internet Explorer/PC, for example, a screen view of 75% can be required to see the full display.

The Takeaway

The all-encompassing images used on Credit Suisse’s home pages are immediately striking examples of how to exploit the potential of the page as an online advertising hoarding or magazine front cover. The design cleverly optimises the ‘billboard’ effect of large images used as backgrounds, with the single narrow column of navigation leaving the majority of the ‘canvas’ to display the feature image and its headline. For most visitors, however, this effort will be less impressive than intended. On the most common screen sizes, significant areas of the background image – and in some cases the caption as well – are concealed. It’s as if a poster has been put up on an outside hoarding that is partly obscured by surrounding buildings. The problem blunts the attempt to provide a dynamic home page experience and may also be indicative of the issues that occur when web designers (working on the large screens that designing necessitates) fail to take into account the limitations of the viewing environment of the site’s visitors.
First published 20 December, 2011
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