Are Home Pages Dead? Where Are Your Visitors Going?

My mom called me up one day to tell me that she loved the Google logo that day and what did I think of it? (I think the Google logo was commemorating the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street that day, btw.) At that moment, I realized that it had been weeks, maybe months, since I last visited the Google home page. Of course I use Google every day, but I use the Google search that’s built into my Web browser. Whenever I need to do a search, I click into the little box, type my keywords, then hit Enter. And voila, I get my search results.

I got to wondering if the home page, the single that we, as Web designers, spend soooooo much time wire framing and designing, has lost its luster. So I started checking our usage reports.  Sure enough, the home page of this blog gets represents between 7–10% % of the total traffic in any given month and 6–9% of total entry pages.  It makes sense given that most of the traffic comes from the blog’s RSS feed, e-​​mail updates, social media pages and search engines, all of which direct visitors to specific pages,  NOT the home page. The Matrix Group Web site home page gets 28% of total traffic, and that number makes sense, given that many people come to the site to learn more about the company as a result of our direct marketing efforts.

I started checking clients’ usage reports and I found that of all the sites I checked, the results were similar.  The home page gets between 17–40% of total traffic, and 15–30% of entry pages.

It turns out that lots of other people are thinking about this phenomenon and some are even declaring that the home page is dead.  Rick Stratton from Feed​.us says, “(y)our homepage’s homepage is dying” because search engines, social media, RSS are linking directly to content pages.

While I don’t agree that the home page is dead, here’s what I do believe:

  • As Web designers, marketers and communicators, we need to give a lot more thought to the user experience on sub-​​pages.
  • We need clear calls to action on sub-​​pages, not just the home page.
  • We need to have a banner ad and sponsorship strategy that incorporates the entire site, not just the home page.
  • We need to look at our usage reports regularly to see which pages, topics and headlines are generating traffic

How about you? What are your usage reports telling you? What do you think of the importance of your home page vs. your content pages?

4 thoughts on “Are Home Pages Dead? Where Are Your Visitors Going?

  1. I agree. In several of our recent web development efforts, we have been driving much more towards taxonomy driven IA, maximizing SEO, and implying calls to action on multiple pages.

    While the homepage will never “die”, I see its importance growing smaller, and the value of a website’s content and accessibility of that content growing larger. But, statistically, the homepage is still one of the most highly used pages on your site, so it had better be nothing less than great. Information packed, a great introduction to your organization, and present the user with options.

    Garry

  2. Thanks for the link.

    I went a little over the top for effect. Of course the homepage isn’t dead.

    But who designs the interior pages first and then the homepage? No one.

  3. Hey Rick! Thanks for the comment! Actually, over here at Matrix Group, we’re now experimenting with designing sub-​​pages first, and then the home page. It doesn’t work for all clients, but we actually have a couple of clients who have agreed to be out guinea pigs as we experiment with this new format. I’ll keep you posted on the results!

  4. Pingback: Design Entry Pages Not Home Pages | Search Engine People | Toronto

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>