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Home Page As Site Anchor

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#1 iamlost


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Posted 04 March 2011 - 08:34 PM

I suppose by now you all know that I :beatingheart: Kim. And not just because she's an intelligent cutie or usability savant or thoughtful philosophical writer or ... all of which is true and can be seen in her LiBeck article The Power and Glory of a Home Page, 04-March-2011.
Note: Kim is the one with the glorious smile NOT the fierce lady with the Taser...

As usual she serves up quite a lot to digest - and I do have my own point to add - so I'm cherry picking the quotes accordingly.

Recently I read a blog post claiming that web site home pages are old school web design and don’t hold the value they once did. So, as an old-timer, I felt inclined to Defend The Homepage.
Wherever the User Lands is Home

Is baloney. Every time a person arrives to a web page they’re asking to be served. If their needs aren’t met, they’ll leave. There was no positive experience. No personal satisfaction. No connection, and, by that, I’m referring to feelings. Most landing pages are nowhere near as fascinating to our senses as a homepage is.
If landing pages are all people or search engines want to see or use, there would be no interest in getting to know the brand, community, blogger, forum or shop owner.
Sites like these not only want to show inspirational homepages, but also point to any pages that talk about who they are and what drives them.
...of the long list of requirements a homepage must meet to do its job perfectly, the most vital to the web site life force is information architecture and the navigation it supports. Homepages tell us where to go in connection with the entire website.
Homepages are used to help establish sense of place and reorientation, especially in cases where inside navigation isn’t working.
Never underestimate the power of a well crafted homepage.

They’re the anchor for the whole ship.

I also appreciate the 'Home' page. Indeed I have written previously about how I have twisted the idea of the homepage to include what I have termed sub-home pages (see 2. Cut Across Site Architecture) to better personalise a site and engage particular visitors.

Kim is looking at the homepage as the anchor about which a site pivots. The page that brands a site. That offers top level (at least) navigation cues. Etc.

Some years back I looked at the homepage and saw it as the site/brand focal point, the big front entry with doorman and concierge to direct and accommodate visitors.

And I thought about the portals of the time, such as Yahoo, that were allowing visitors to 'create' their own 'home' pages and about how browsers, open to a 'home' page (their own URL as default of course :)).

I identified certain site usage differences, certain referring site (beginning with FaceBook) visitor demographic breakouts and created semi-personalised (group-ised?) sub-home pages that I thought would work as supplementary 'anchors'.

Analysis has consistently shown their 'Power and Glory'. The main the original home page is where the site formally presents itself to the visitor. The majority of internal (landing) pages serve specific needs/wants/desires. The sub-home pages are like the kitchen door, an informal general entry for friends. Those sites with sub-home pages show greater retention of new visitors, a desired point of entry for direct visitors, etc.

I'll just finish by reminding that domain root and home page are generally one and the same, the default type-in URL, the default link-out URL, the default branding of a site.

The Power and Glory of a Home Page
Yes, indeed.

#2 raz


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Posted 04 March 2011 - 10:23 PM

I like Kim too, though for some reason I prefer to call her Donna. May be because of all the help I received from "Donna" in the SeoChat days.

I always try to cram as much information about the site in the home page as I can with mixed results. What confuses me is the fact that my sites only get visitors from very relevant keywords and yet the 40 to 47% bounce rates are there.

I don't get it; if you are looking for "bright red shoes" and land on a page that has information on it with a link to a page full of it why would you go away almost imidietly?

Kim, I wish you would give us some examples of what you think is a well layed out home page.


#3 DonnaFontenot


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Posted 05 March 2011 - 12:21 AM

You know Kim and Donna are different people, right? Although I sometimes think Kim is some sort of spiritual kin to me, and maybe even my sister from another lifetime, we aren't one and the same. But yes, Kim is oh so loveable.

#4 raz


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Posted 05 March 2011 - 02:36 AM

Whoops! I did confuse... :embarrassed:

Edited by raz, 05 March 2011 - 02:38 AM.

#5 DonnaFontenot


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Posted 05 March 2011 - 08:05 AM

Teehee. Some days, if I didn't have my name and avatar plastered all over the place, I doubt I'd remember who I was. Most days, actually. Ok. Every day.

#6 cre8pc


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Posted 07 March 2011 - 05:48 PM

It's easy to get DD and I confused. We're both BRILLIANT and SMART :emo6:

iamlost, I'm so glad you liked that post. I was so ticked off when I saw a "homepages are dead" kind of post in a very popular SEO blog. The thrust is that the power of a site for conversions are the landing pages. Landing pages have their place but if they point to the homepage and the homepage sucks, frustrates, confuses, or worse, interferes with conversions, then the whole party ends.

I see and audit hundreds of sites and it still amazes me how weak homepages are.

Here is a site I had a hand with the design and UX input on - JWSuretyBonds.com Their old design was old and not converting. They shot up in SERPS rank and can track conversions far better now.

#7 raz


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Posted 08 March 2011 - 07:20 PM

It's easy to get DD and I confused. We're both BRILLIANT and SMART :emo6:

Who can argue with that?

I take it this [ http://replay.waybac...uretybonds.com/ ] was your starting point.

What an improvement. My first instinct when I found the old page was to click away...


Edited by raz, 08 March 2011 - 07:21 PM.

#8 jonbey


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Posted 08 March 2011 - 09:42 PM

Probably a little off, but suddenly reminded of 2 things.

Saw a Webmaster Tools video the other day and Matt Cutts confirms that more than 100 links on a page is no longer a problem, no negative SEO on more links (for that page) etc. Plus, I recall Egol saying that he had good results from piling more links onto his homepage, also ignoring the 100 limit - people spent more time looking and then choosing a link (I think).

If it was not such a silly time of night I would search for some references....

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