June 20, 2014 | Sarah Danks


Are Home Pages Really Obsolete?

I’m not sure why I just found out yesterday that people think website home pages are dead (or soon will be). I’m thinking this is just another one of those “SEO is DEAD” kind of fads.

I mean, seriously — home pages? Not having a home page on a website is like not having a front door on your house. Or, maybe more like when you go over to visit someone, they invite you in the front door and BOOM! you’re in their bathroom.

Awkward. I mean, let me get to know you first.

Anyway. Here’s what the people at ThinkSEM have to say about “Home Pages are Dead:”

Dave the Designer

“Here’s the thing — the homepage should be used as an introduction/tone-setter for the rest of the website. It should display content that makes the most impact and give a general sense of who the company is and why I, as a site visitor, should give a poo.

The inner pages should carry on this tone but obviously disseminate information on a more granular level. Here’s my question: If you don’t have a homepage, then what is the default page someone comes to if not directed to any page in particular?

Gotta start somewhere!”

Paul the Local Search Guy

“IMO, the homepage can’t go away because of direct traffic and branded Google searches but certainly can trend towards more user friendly things like more easy access to calls-to-action and social profiles.

I do think the days of Big-Box Web Company home page-type of optimization are over and Google places less importance on it.”

Sue the Writer

“Do companies really need a home page?” The answer isn’t “yes” or “no.” Nothing is that simple in a complex Internet world and with billions (OK, zillions) of separate Internet experiences. To me, every page is a home page.

As I have told many clients and copywriters, there is no way of knowing in advance how people will enter your website. They might come in the front door, right to the “Home” page – especially if they saw your URL on a business card or product package.

Many (most, perhaps, depending on the business) come via searches. That could mean coming in the back door, a window or even down the chimney. You need to greet them in a friendly, helpful manner no matter how they get inside.

Creating a “Home” page has a definite value. It helps establish a personality and a direction for the company. And it helps direct people to the information they’re looking for as quickly as possible. Whether your customer ever sees the home page is not as important as your company’s need to establish the personality and message that will carry throughout the entire site.

And if “only” a third of visitors — or even a tenth — see your home page, you don’t want to lose them. Do you?”

Clint the Owner/Search Marketer

“Yes, we still need a home page.

With large, authority websites that produce mass quantities of content, the home page becomes less and less important from an SEO — and reader — perspective. The other 99.5% of business websites don’t fit that mold.

The home page remains just as important as it always has; it is critical to their online success organically.

Because a home page is the strongest page on your site, it needs to be optimized to drive traffic. Therefore, I firmly believe that home pages are far from dead.”

And, last but not least, my own thoughts on why home pages will never die:

Sarah the Search Marketer

“I’m thinking the “Home Pages are Dying” crowd is talking about huge sites like Amazon or online newspapers, where there’s almost zero need to visit the home page. That being said…

Not having a home page on a business website is like building a house without a proper foyer. Not to say that every house needs a FORMAL foyer, but SOME type of foyer.

And, for those guests who prefer to come in via the windows, eventually they’ll want the whole tour and will eventually have to visit the entryway.

House analogies aside, the home page is the online face of a company. Every website resides on a domain. If you get handed a business card and the website URL is listed, it’s going to be the domain name. The “doorway” to the site.

You’re not likely to see www.mysite.com/about-us on a business card. So, when you DO visit that company’s home page, you get the umbrella story: the brand, the who-the-what-the-why-the-where, the page that gives you access to find further information.

Is search traffic necessarily going to land there? Perhaps. Perhaps not — but again, visitors will eventually go there to get the “story” behind the company.

And, since the home page’s URL is the root of the domain, that’s where you’re most likely to receive all your link love. Which drives up the importance of the home page — the face of the domain. The online face of the company.

Do I think home pages are dead or dying? Nope. Not for business websites.”

Website Home Pages — Here to Stay

So many times over the years I’ve heard “x is dying,” or “y is now irrelevant,” but what tends to happen is these things don’t die; they merely shift.

Take The Fold, for instance. With so many varying sizes of screens — 27″ desktop monitors, 15″ laptops, tablets, phones — there isn’t a set “place” for the fold anymore. Does that mean the fold is dead?

Of course not. It means it’s in different places depending on screen size. Designers need to adapt their UX to match the device. End of story.

There are always going to be people saying something is dead. My advice to them?

Keep this in mind: It’s all relative!

 


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