The Evolution of a Homepage

You only get one chance at a first impression, and on the Internet you only have about 7 seconds to do it. Given the crowded, competitive and constantly changing market Umbel falls in, we’re constantly reworking and reimagining our homepage to keep it as up-to-date and easy to understand as possible.

As we were working on this latest incarnation of our homepage — which is designed to be cleaner, simpler, and oh-so-easy to understand — I started wondering what sort of trajectory our website has taken since I first clapped eyes on it as a job-seeking college senior.

How has our homepage changed? What’s core to Umbel and what’s still in flux? In order to answer this, I let the homepage speak for itself, turning to the words.


Methodology & Execution

To create this visualization I used everyone’s favorite Internet archive — the Wayback Machine — to compare different versions of Umbel’s homepage. I started in February 2014 (the first time I saw the Umbel website) and recorded every major update to the homepage. There were five distinct versions, each reflecting a different moment in Umbel’s history.

I used this handy word counter to help find the most common words, looking for words with at least three mentions on the homepage to look for themes.

After cleaning up and organizing this data in a Google Sheet, I used my favorite data visualization tool, Raw, to create an Alluvial diagram of the data. This format allows comparison of the relative wordiness of homepages and their popularity over time.




We’re less focused on our technology and more focused on action.

We went from using just one verb in 2014 to verbs making up over half of the keywords today. That’s because our copy is focused on what you can accomplish with Umbel, not just on product features.

We’re getting less narcissistic. Maybe.

We’re way down from our high of 16 mentions of “Umbel” in July 2014. Now we have larger sections of our homepage dedicated to talking about our awesome clients, not just ourselves.

There’s a natural ebb & flow.

The length of our website copy grows, then shrinks, then grows again. We’re constantly tweaking, over-tweaking and re-tweaking to keep the homepage in the sweet spot. Right now we’re at a new low for words on the page (only 235!). We’re trying to keep it succinct these days.

Buzzwords come and go, but Umbel will always mean data.

Across every version of the homepage, data was key to explaining Umbel. Data is in our DNA around here, which is why we’ve used the word 79 times across the five homepages. We love data, just don’t ask us how to
pronounce it.