Does Your Website Really Need a Home Page?

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The World Wide Web has been around for almost a quarter century. During that time, most websites have been developed starting with the home page. It’s traditionally been the portal most online visitors enter to find the information on the site they’re looking for.

Think of the home page as similar to the front door and foyer of a house. It’s not a place where most people spend a lot of time. It’s a pass-through that gets you to where you really want to go in the house, such as the kitchen, living room or other spaces.

Despite the fact that millions and millions of websites have been built using home pages as their entry point and organizing structure, we question whether a good website still needs a homepage. After all, more and more homes today are built with multiple entrances and less focus on the front door, and maybe more websites should follow this model, as well.

Think about it:

  • When you search for information on Google, it doesn’t take you to the home pages of The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes or other websites. It takes you right to an article.
  • When you search for “boots” online, you’re not dropped onto Zappo’s home page. You’re directed to the boot section of the site. 
  • If you click on a link in a social post or an online ad, you arrive at a page that has the content or offer promoted in the post or ad, not a home page.

So, if most good communicators and marketers work so hard to use SEO, targeted advertising and social media to get web users directly to the content they’re looking for, why are web developers still building sites based on home pages? Isn’t having someone arrive at your home page an admission of failure? It means you didn’t deliver them directly to helpful content. You’re forcing additional clicks that could drive a visitor away from your site.

We’re proposing that it’s time to stop building websites using the traditional top > down approach, which starts with the home page and lays out navigation to the key pages on your site. Instead, shift the focus and develop websites from the bottom > up. Start by creating optimal destination pages and structure the site from there. Instead of using a homepage and top-level navigation as a way for visitors to access the page they want rather than the one they landed on, why not provide smart links to get them to alternate content rather than forcing additional clicks through a home page?

This is an effective way to deliver a better visitor experience and improve SEO to the pages on a site that matter. Think about it, do architects design a house starting with the foyer, or do they begin with the kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms and other spaces that matter to families? Do they force people to always use the foyer to get to different rooms, or do they build efficient hallways and passages through a house? Modern websites should follow the same model to make navigation efficient and improve the user experience.

Are you thinking about building a website optimized for today’s world of SEO, targeted advertising and social media? Contact Carpenter Group to find out how we can architect a site designed to deliver an efficient user experience.