When we develop a new website, one of the first steps our account managers take is to develop the site map. The purpose of the site map is to outline the hierarchy of the website pages and how they will relate to each other. Invariably, we have clients who want to put the ‘Home’ button as the first item in their main navigation.
Now, I recognize that most clients don’t think, read or talk about web design to the depth that we do (that is morning, noon and night and sometime even in our dreams) so it’s understandable that they don’t really think about how people interact with websites. So I wrote this article to provide insight into where the ‘Home’ button really belongs and why we feel that way.
Been There, Done That
In Western cultures people read left to right and top to bottom. So logically speaking, if they land on the home page, and the navigation is ordered by area of importance, wouldn’t you want them to focus on Products, Services or Company information at this point? The home page is simply a starting point. And the goal of any great home page is to motivate the user to continue browsing into your website. So why would you want the first link in the navigation to be “Home”? They’ve been there and done that!
There shouldn’t be any information on the home page that isn’t accessible from anywhere within the rest of the website. If I walk into the entrance of a mall and head to a particular store, once I leave said store, do I really need to go back to the mall entrance (home page) to find the next one? No, I’m going to use the mall directory (aka, the navigation) to get to my next destination.
Get That Conversion!
The goal of any successful website is to convert users into customers or potential clients. Great websites, like the ones we develop, take into account conversion funneling. A conversion funnel leads your site visitor to pick up the phone, make a purchase, fill out a contact form, etc. So how does taking them back to the home page help create conversion? Isn’t that just starting them over?
Is it even Necessary?
There is a lot of conversation in the web design world about whether a ‘Home’ button is even necessary anymore. Most people who use the Internet know by now that they can click the logo to be returned to the home page. And increasingly you’ll find that a lot of larger companies have done away with it: Newegg.com, walmart.com, apple.com, etc. I doubt that this was simply an oversight. Companies this large don’t make arbitrary changes to their flagship sites’ navigation. So follow the lead dogs and ditch the idea of featuring a “Home” link as the most important one on your site.