PayPal Redesigns It’s Website

by Melvin Ram on June 21, 2012

PayPal is the 500 lb gorilla in the online payment world. Some people love them. Some hate them. However, one thing almost everyone who visited their site would tell you is that it looked like it was designed in the early 2000′s, which is Internet equivalent of a movie that was created in the 1950′s.

Here’s what it used to look like:

Today they’ve brought their home page and a couple other pages of their site into 2012. Here’s the new look:

A couple things you should notice about their new design:

  1. They have adopted the billboard layout that we’ve been touting for a while. This consists of a logo & navigation at the top, billboard with action item in the middle, interest areas that take you to the most important parts of your site right below it and ends with a thin or fat footer. See examples at, and others.
  2. In addition to adopting the billboard website layout, their billboard accommodates wide screen monitors. The key rational for this is that monitor sizes and resolutions are climbing. Instead of wasting real estate on the left and right of a site, you can use it appropriately with a larger billboard that gives you a wow feeling when you see the beautiful photograph in all it’s glory.

There are a few things about the site that I would have done differently:
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  • The call to action is outside the normal flow of the eye. I would have moved that box to be right underneath the headline and subheadline.
  • The Personal / Business tabs at the very top are sort of getting lost up there. I would have added an icon or a color or something to bring a bit more attention to it.
  • As beautiful as the photograph is in the billboard, it doesn’t quiet communicate much. Your billboard should overtly communicate a message that is directly related to your unique value proposition. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume PayPal’s team will be updating the billboard to be more on message in the near future.

Overall, it’s a very welcome redesign. I hope they don’t stop with just the home page but instead will roll out the design to their entire application.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Randy Steer July 18, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Thought-provoking post — I had seen the redesign but hardly paid attention to it. I disagree about a few things, however.

1. Billboard layout. I’m not a fan of visually or ergonomically divorcing navigation from content. (This also addresses your comment that the “Personal / Business tabs at the very top are sort of getting lost up there.”)

If your billboard image is so tall that on a low-res display you have to scroll down just to get to navigation, there’s some sense to putting navigation first, but really, it’s better to have the navigation right above the content. That requires less mouse movement on the part of the user, and if the content is long enough to require scrolling the page down (suppose PayPal had a second row of interest areas), then the FIRST thing you lose when scrolling is your navigation. (And login. And search.) Scrolling down to see a second row of interest areas would leave a partial image of two people sitting on the dock at the top of the screen, but the user would have lost immediate access to navigation, login, and search. So better to put the “eye candy” that has little practical value at the top, and let users scroll past it, to all the links and information they’re actually going to use. Or maybe not have as much eye-candy in the first place.

A call-to-action in the billboard image is something that a user is likely to either do right away, before using the site for anything else, or they’ll ignore it. So having that at the top and letting them do their work below it is perfectly appropriate.

2. Placement of the “Explore the Redesign” panel. Putting it directly below all the other text would result in a visually unbalanced header. And it’s not TERRIBLY important — it’s just an option — an “aside” if you will. (Which is literally placed *aside*.) As for being outside outside the standard visual flow, by luck or design that means that the viewer spends a little more time looking at the billboard image (which turns out to be a good thing — see comment 3), and it means that the call to action gets attended to separately from reading the other text.

If I wanted to quibble, I would suggest that the panel could be made a little less wide — there’s wasted horizontal space — by moving the left-hand endge of the box to the right. That would give a bit more “air” around the people. (Moving the whole thing to the right might move it out of view on non-widescreen displays.)

3. Does the photograph communicate anything? Yes, it does. PayPal are either very smart or lucky. It communicates two things:

– It’s a very peaceful, calming scene. When you’re about to ask for people’s bank account numbers, credit-card numbers, and sometimes their Social Security number, you want them to be in a calm and un-stressed mood. The placement of key elements in a sort of triangular relationship keeps the eye on the image longer, which allows it to have more of the calming effect.

– It focuses in on a couple of people, just two, enjoying a very personal and individual moment. That brings home, in an emotional, subconscious way, the theme of “with YOU in mind”. It says, “we’re focused on the individual.” Who couldn’t imagine themselves in that scene? The photo is all about them; all about you.

Not that I would have ever THOUGHT of this image myself, but it makes right-brain visual and emotional sense.

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