Do you really need a home page?

Seth Godin, on his blog, wrote “Do you really need a home page? Does the web respect it?”.

Here is what he wrote:
Human beings don’t have home pages. People make judgments about you in a thousand different ways. By what they hear from others, by the way they experience you, and on and on. Companies may have a website, but they don’t have a home page in terms of the way people experience them.
The problem with home page thinking is that it’s a crutch. There’s nothing wrong with an index, nothing wrong with a page for newbies, nothing wrong with a place that makes a first impression when you get the chance to control that encounter. But it’s not your ‘home’. It’s not what the surfer/user wants, and when it doesn’t match, they flee.
You don’t need one home page. You need a hundred or a thousand. And they’re all just as important.

I fully agree with Seth’s view. I wrote similar post last year, where I questioned the undue importance marketers give to their home page (Homepage How Critical is it?). In this article I highligted several reasons why a majority of the users might never see the traditional homepage. Essentially every page is a home page (use your web analytics tool to find out where users are entering your site and treat at least the top entry pages as your home page).

Below are some of the factors, that I mentioned in my post, that cause users to bypass the home page.

1. Search Engines – Visitors, now more than ever, rely on the search engines to find the sites or pages which are relevant to what they are looking for. Search engines link into internal pages not just home page, at least that’s the case for well search engine optimized SEO) sites.

2. Viral Marketing – Friends referring friends to internal page (pages other than homepage) of the site.

3. Bookmarks – Visitors are book marking the internal pages which have content/products which interest them and then use these bookmarks to visit the site.

4. Deep linking on the other sites – Other sites, blogs etc. are linking to the internal pages with content/products relevant to their content.

5. Online Advertising – Online Advertising (and offline too) drive users to landing pages which are generally internal pages.

Note: that in response to my post last year, Joeseph Carrabis wrote a post titled Homepage as Bookcover.

2 Replies to “Do you really need a home page?”

  1. hi, Anil, how are you?

    I wrote a post about this at some point too. I agree with every one of your points. I don’t think the ‘book cover’ analogy is quite perfect: Though you might start reading at a different point, every reader will see the cover of the book. The same isn’t true of a homepage. Perhaps the front doorman at a hotel is a better analogy? Not 100%

    It’s also interesting to think about the reverse of this situation: Elements that used to be confined to a homepage now have a purpose elsewhere on the site. Every page now has to make that ‘book cover’ impression. Visitors have to be able to orient themselves & understand nav structures no matter where they land. The crucial “what do these guys actually do?” question gets asked on every entrance page to the site now.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post. I hope things are going well,


  2. Fantastic! I’ve been working on some stuff just this week that enacts a lot of what you’re talking about. From an IA perspective, I’ve come to see sites less as the traditional pyramid hierarchies and more as a series of inverted, interconnected pyramids leading toward the desired sets of outcomes.

    What a challenging approach: Who are you if you don’t have a home page to describe you?

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