The Disappearing Home Button

July 6, 2009 ~ by

During a recent web project we decided to drop the usual home button from the main navigation which proved to be highly controversial. After much debate we ended up adding it back in.

Since this project the same dilemma has cropped up on a number of occasions, the dilemma is this: Do we stick to what we’ve been doing for many years now or do we make the change and ditch the home button? After all, is it really needed?

Next time your browsing the web take note of whether or not the site you are using has a home button and if you use it.

Of course there needs to be link back to the home page via any page of a website, you would never leave it out. But in the case of these sites you get to it via their logo – some other sites use an icon or a clear, concise breadcrumb trail.

So do we Need it or Shall we Ditch it?

Ask yourself how detrimental it is to the site? Is it relevant to all users, or is it only for first time visitors that may need to return to the home page? Take Facebook for example; you sign in on the home page and once you’ve signed in you never need to see the home page again (other than to sign in). A large eCommerce site will target its traffic at individual product or category pages, for example: If you find a product on Amazon via Google you wouldn’t need to visit the home page, you’d just purchase and move on.

Also consider your users and how savvy they are. We’re convinced that the majority of web users know that a sites logo doubles up as a link to the home page but at the same time would your mum know that?

The Answer is This…

Do what makes most sense in terms of navigation. Ask yourself, can the user get to the content that they want? and, what is on the home page alone that they need to go back for? It’s purely a judgment call and one that we are going to be making from now on.

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