May 24, 2006 | Category:

Design: Banshee

I’ve previously written about open source project home pages and thought it was about time to look at another one, namely the Banshee Project: a Linux-based music player and organiser which takes heavy inspiration (and features) from iTunes.

Most aspects of the site are spot on. The design is clean and friendly, the content is well organised and the copy used helpful and concise. Best example is the opening line from the front page:

With Banshee you can easily import, manage, and play selections from your music collection.

That’s how you sell a product: a clean, and simple explanation of the benefits it aims to provide. After a few more sentences to explain additional functionality, it allows new users to look at more information via a “Read more” link, and continues with download details, bug channels, mailing lists and other details more experienced users are looking for. That’s near impeccable flow in design.

The main thing the site gets wrong is the download links: they are below the page fold and/or poorly labelled. “View this release” and “Getting Started” are not what people are looking for; they want a link that says “Download”. Put that in somewhere above the fold, and make the download experience as painless as possible (one-click to get the executable) and you’ve got a marked improvement. Admittedly this is more difficult for a Linux application than a Windows one, given differences in distros, but it should be easier than it currently is.

All-in-all, a good example of an open-source project that is getting it (mostly) right.