Josh Shardlow Team : Web Production Tags : Web Development Clients Search Featured

The (ir)relevance of your homepage

Josh Shardlow Team : Web Production Tags : Web Development Clients Search Featured

Many clients come to us labouring over what content should be on their homepage. ‘What we do’, ‘Our Team’ and ‘Quick Links’ are the usual suspects. The homepage is usually one of the most hotly contested pieces of site real estate and therefore an area of considerable UX and Design focus.

We understand it’s important and we like spending time with our clients to help them discover who’s using their homepage and what they’re trying to do on it. Despite all this, the homepage is probably not as important as many clients would like to believe.

Google is actually your homepage

It can come as a rude surprise for some clients to learn that most users aren’t actually typing in as a starting point to their journey through their site. While every site is different, the likely truth is that in many instances is more likely to be the starting point (homepage) for users entering your site.

A large percentage of traffic comes from people searching for a particular product, topic or service contained within your site. They find your site through search results and may not have heard of you until they view search results related to content buried deep within your site – not your homepage.

Not everyone is coming in the front door

Apart from search, there’s also many other ways users may find their way into your site. Social posts, shared eDM’s, traffic from blog posts, links from other sites. The amount of potential entry points is endless and ever changing. You can and should be keeping track of where and how your traffic comes to you through google analytics.

Looking for some proof or to see if this applies to your site? If you’ve got long term analytics on your site you might like to check the trends over an extended period of time yourself. Has the percentage of homepage visits as a percentage of overall visits decreased over time? Has the time users spend on your homepage decreased? Perhaps most importantly, where is the majority of your site traffic? The answer to this last question may not be as straight forward as it looks. You probably believe that the majority of your site traffic is found on your homepage but this may not actually be the case.

The 'Long Tail'

The Long tail theory can be simply explained through a site such as Amazon who may heavily promote the latest Beyoncé or Taylor Swift CD while at the same time selling a much larger aggregate amount of less popular CD’s.

The same pattern can also often be seen in terms of page visits to a particular website.

While page views of the homepage may still outnumber any other single less popular page, when you combine the views of the less popular pages it’s likely that the visits to the rest of the site will make up a considerable amount (maybe the majority) of your site activity.

It’s an interesting thought and when combined with trends around search, begs the question - why spend such a large percentage of resources/time on homepage design when the majority of user may visit it only as an afterthought?