Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Do you need a homepage anymore?

I have being thinking about what the homepage should do for the site now that search is king and most traffic enters 'inside' your site.

Then Chistene mentioned in her post The Content Gets Priority's that Jared Spool had written on UIE Brain Sparks Is Home Page Design Relevant Any More? and I started thinking about it again.

The homepage now is used as a splash page for advertising url responses on off line media. But online I would almost never send anyone to the homepage, out of choice. A user once in the site often only needs to (or should not need to) return to the homepage when they get stuck or do not know where they should go next.

So maybe that is what the page is for guiding the uninitiated or the lost. Not to help people who know but for those who do not. I know form my use of sites that I browse the homepage of a site very quickly to get a picture of the site and see if they tell me if anything has changed or is new. I come up for air after swimming around on the more useful search and reference pages linking the desired content. I know the one thing I want from the homepage, to get off it and find something better, something i am looking for.

So maybe the homepage will drop some of the brand and gain more of the help and deep linking that will get me to the content I am looking for.

Well I can only hope my work can achieve this and see what everyone else does.

How Content Aggregators Change Navigation and Control of Content has a great example of this in two diagrams. Users are no longer using the navigation of the site until after they have first found what they want. The links then must be a call to action after they have found what they want and a trigger to the scent they are looking for if this was not it. Either way, most sites require people to find and understand the interface around them, navigate to the top of it and then back down to anything else they were looking for.

I think this leaves allot of thought out structure for users, actually for search engine to find the pages for the users and then a new set of navigation to move site ways and around the content for users when they have started at the bottom of it.

Back to the navigation drawing board for me, things are evolving.

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