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How Microsoft Is Designing A Visually Persuasive Web [PSFK CONFERENCE SAN FRANCISCO]

PSFK talks to editors at Bing about driving editorial content through web pages that are both informative and beautiful.

Timothy Ryan, PSFK Labs
Timothy Ryan, PSFK Labs on October 28, 2012. @timjamesryan

PSFK is excited to welcome Kristin Dean and Stephanie Horstmanshof as speakers at PSFK CONFERENCE SAN FRANCISCO. Kristin and Stephanie are senior editors at Microsoft’s Bing, where they are using the search engine’s landing page as a platform for launching visually driven educational materials. On November 1st, Stephanie and Kristin will discuss crafting and directing editorial content through a carefully selected visual aesthetic.

What is the goal of a visually appealing landing page?

Our job is to make people want to come to our page every single day, because we’re giving them something that’s lovely and interesting.  I agree, it’s meant to be a delight, a quick little snap and beautiful way to start your day, every single day.

I think that purity and the realism were important. Everyone has seen a search engine landing page, but the  reality of the photograph is something different altogether. It is in some way exploring the real world around you. To us, that offers a surprise. It is something that changes every day. It’s also advertising neutral and has no other agenda but that. We just build something that is meant to be informative and beautiful.

It may come off as, “Oh, they’re just putting a pretty picture up there,” without this philosophical goal and visual persuasion behind it. But it’s a hard job to come up with different pages every day, and then with the varying subsidiary markets and different countries also have the ability to pick their own pages and do what’s appropriate in that country.

It feels more like running a daily newspaper or a daily blog. It always has to be that fresh and novel to be a success.

What has been the response?

What’s really nice about our job is that we get a lot of user feedback. People use the feedback link at the bottom of the page to tell us how much they love and appreciate the daily image, how they look forward to it, and how it’s inspiring every day. It’s amazing to actually have direct customer feedback because you don’t normally get that in your day‑to‑day job.

It has also became clear to us that a lot of teachers were using the home page. If you hover over the hot spots, you’re directed further into information about what’s going on in that image. Teachers would use it as a teaching tool because it changed every day, and it got students thinking and learning about a new subject every time. Because you don’t know what’s coming next, it’s always a delight and a surprise.

 Thanks Kristin and Stephanie!

Bing is an official partner of PSFK CONFERENCE SAN FRANCISCO. Please join us on November 1st to hear Stephanie and Kristin discuss designing web pages that are both informative and beautiful using the form below:

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