"home" links

3 Feb 2008 - 9:03am
6 years ago
24 replies
1155 reads
Micah Freedman
2008

Does anyone have any research and/or rules-of-thumb about the
usefulness of putting "home" in the permanent navigation? I tend to
want to leave it off because A) on most sites, I feel like once the
user is in the site, there's not really much of a reason for them to
go home, and B) The "click on the logo to go home" pattern seems
universal enough that everyone *should* know about it. OTOH, I can
easily imagine "Aunt Tilly" looking for the home link and getting
confused if it's not there. Are there times when it should be used?
Times when it shouldn't? Times when it's optional?

-Micah

Comments

3 Feb 2008 - 10:59am
Christine Boese
2006

The thing that makes me crazy is when sites don't follow the design
convention of using the main site branding or logo being a constant link
throughout the site to the site's "front door." I don't see these pages as
being a "home" as much as I see them as an essential navigational portal
into the site. I don't need a "home" link, so long as the primary logo on
the site always goes there.

What I mean to say is, neglecting that portal and the navigational
structures present in it is tantamount to neglecting any portal, from Deep
Space Nine to 90s search engines. They are gatekeepers and also crucial for
SEO.

But most importantly, to neglect a site's primary portal is to presume that
your navigational structures are perfectly understandable for all audiences
at all times (even when people surf drunk or stoned?), so they can NEVER get
lost, will never need the equivalent of a "reset" button, which is what a
home page really is, for when people try to find something on a site, and
get confused and lost along the way, and their only recourse is to go back
to where they started and retrace their steps (or, the final fallback
position, try Google).

Chris

On Feb 3, 2008 10:03 AM, Micah Freedman <i at micahfreedman.com> wrote:

> Does anyone have any research and/or rules-of-thumb about the
> usefulness of putting "home" in the permanent navigation? I tend to
> want to leave it off because A) on most sites, I feel like once the
> user is in the site, there's not really much of a reason for them to
> go home, and B) The "click on the logo to go home" pattern seems
> universal enough that everyone *should* know about it. OTOH, I can
> easily imagine "Aunt Tilly" looking for the home link and getting
> confused if it's not there. Are there times when it should be used?
> Times when it shouldn't? Times when it's optional?
>
> -Micah
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
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>

3 Feb 2008 - 11:04am
Joseph Selbie
2007

Micah,

Your sort of answered the question yourself. Your answer should be derived
from your users. If "Aunt Tilly" is a significant user type, or actual
persona, then by all means include home in the main navigation.

In a general, unless there is a space issue, brand issue, or some other
compelling factor, I would include home in the main nav, even if most people
understand to click on the logo -- simply because it is more likely to
satisfy more users.

Joseph Selbie
Founder, CEO Tristream
Web Application Design
http://www.tristream.com

3 Feb 2008 - 11:34am
Jeff Seager
2007

I'd echo what Christine and Joseph say, and add that in some cases
you can simply view the site's name or title in the same way you
would a logo. I personally don't like the generic "Home" link,
either, but I like using a consistent text link in the main nav that
functions as a "home" link.

Redundancy is good too, to a point, so the combination of a
consistent text link and consistent logo is often a good idea. The
important thing is to establish those cognitive links that help users
make sense of your content.

Note that, on this very page, you can hover over the IxDA logo to
summon the word "Home" ... This reinforces your guess that the logo
may function as expected.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25499

3 Feb 2008 - 1:05pm
bminihan
2007

We got some pretty good statistical data on the use of our Home link at my
last company. Our corporate portal had both an explicit Home link, plus the
logo did the same thing.

Previously, only our logo was linked. We added the Home link to help new
employees a little more, who might not have assumed our logo linked to home.

After about a year and a half after the new design was launched, we did a
statistical analysis of banner links over a 3 month period (so, the design
had "burned in" for awhile). Our data came from Omniture Sitecatalyst and
several user studies over that period.

We found the Home link was the least clicked link in the banner, with
something like less than 1-2% of clicks for the entire banner (the primary
nav consisted of about 9-10 visible links, with several popup menus of 5-10
items each.

We ultimately decided the Home link *could* be removed. On the other hand,
we weren't terribly pressed for space, and got only 1-2 complaints about it
being there over the whole period ("why do you have 2 links to the home page
on every page of the portal???").

If it's feasible and not terribly distracting, I have seen some sites add a
tiny word "Home" inside or very close to their logo, to reinforce the fact
you can use it to go home. That would free up space in your prime nav. It
wouldn't work for all logos, and some brand police (ours in particular)
would have a fit if you modified the logo in any way.

Hope this helps...

Bryan
http://www.bryanminihan.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Micah
Freedman
Sent: Sunday, February 03, 2008 10:04 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] "home" links

Does anyone have any research and/or rules-of-thumb about the
usefulness of putting "home" in the permanent navigation? I tend to
want to leave it off because A) on most sites, I feel like once the
user is in the site, there's not really much of a reason for them to
go home, and B) The "click on the logo to go home" pattern seems
universal enough that everyone *should* know about it. OTOH, I can
easily imagine "Aunt Tilly" looking for the home link and getting
confused if it's not there. Are there times when it should be used?
Times when it shouldn't? Times when it's optional?

-Micah
________________________________________________________________
*Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/

________________________________________________________________
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To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
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3 Feb 2008 - 2:56pm
bminihan
2007

I no longer have access to the data, unfortunately, but we did find the Logo
was in the "healthy" range for the heaviest banner clicks. It wasn't #1,
but it was in the top 5 of 9-10.

I recall several studies watching folks move around the portal and the logo
was one of the favorite ways to get back home.

One caveat I would add is that for some people in our portal, the Home page
wasn't terribly valuable to them, so they rarely needed to go there, once
they left. Also, our portal was everyone's default home page. Therefore,
some folks would close and open their browser to get Home, and many more
would use a bookmark to get back. When asked if they saw the Home link,
most folks did (it was the first link in a prominent tab navigation, and was
the only one with an icon), just didn't think they needed it.

It's been a few months since I left, so I'm going on memory a bit.

Bryan
http://www.bryanminihan.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul Eisen [mailto:peisen at tandemseven.com]
Sent: Sunday, February 03, 2008 3:34 PM
To: Bryan Minihan; discuss at ixda.org
Subject: RE: [IxDA Discuss] "home" links

Bryan,

These results are quite interesting; thanks for sharing.

You mentioned, "We found the Home link was the least clicked link in the
banner, with something like less than 1-2% of clicks for the entire
banner (the primary nav consisted of about 9-10 visible links, with
several popup menus of 5-10 items each)."

I'm curious about the relative use of the Home link in the banner
compared with the logo itself. Do you have any data to share about this
comparison?

Paul Eisen
Principal User Experience Architect
tandemseven

416.840.4447 office/mobile
peisen at tandemseven.com
http://www.tandemseven.com

3 Feb 2008 - 3:09pm
Wendy Cutting
2008

If you are using breadcrumbs you've solved this issue. If not, you should make it as easy possible for the user to get home. Most people assume the logo will take you back and on some sites that is sufficient due the purpose of the site.

I also think the deep the user goes into the site they may feel lost if they've ended up on a page they didn't expect. Again, another good reason to use breadcumbs.

3 Feb 2008 - 12:51pm
Anthony Hempell
2007

On 3-Feb-08, at 7:03 AM, Micah Freedman wrote:

> A) on most sites, I feel like once the
> user is in the site, there's not really much of a reason for them to
> go home,

Can you explain what you mean here? In my observations of how people
use site navigation, I've seen them using the "home" link as their
default navigation "reset", probably second only to using the
browser's back button.

Anthony

3 Feb 2008 - 2:02pm
Micah Freedman
2008

> > A) on most sites, I feel like once the user is in the site, there's not really
> > much of a reason for them to
> > go home,
>
> Can you explain what you mean here? In my observations of how people
> use site navigation, I've seen them using the "home" link as their
> default navigation "reset", probably second only to using the
> browser's back button.

"Reset" notwithstanding, for many sites, the content on the home page
is introductory, and the navigation is universal. Thus, if you're on
an inner page, and you want to go somewhere else, there's really no
reason to go home to do it. There are plenty of exceptions of course
(a newspaper site comes to mind). And plenty of people go to google
and type "amazon.com" into the search bar even though "there's no
reason to do it".

In a casual review, I found very few major brands using a "home" link,
but my clients often seem to expect it. I like the "'home' on
rollover" pattern. I generally hate the "tiny 'home' embedded in the
logo" one. And in the interest of making things as clean as possible,
I generally prefer to leave the "home" link off unless there's a
compelling reason to have it.

3 Feb 2008 - 2:33pm
Paul Eisen
2007

Bryan,

These results are quite interesting; thanks for sharing.

You mentioned, "We found the Home link was the least clicked link in the
banner, with something like less than 1-2% of clicks for the entire
banner (the primary nav consisted of about 9-10 visible links, with
several popup menus of 5-10 items each)."

I'm curious about the relative use of the Home link in the banner
compared with the logo itself. Do you have any data to share about this
comparison?

Paul Eisen
Principal User Experience Architect
tandemseven

416.840.4447 office/mobile
peisen at tandemseven.com
http://www.tandemseven.com

3 Feb 2008 - 3:14pm
bminihan
2007

I have noticed many sites lately have changed your home page, once you "sign
in", which seems to help keep the Home page current and relevant (enough to
want to go back when you come back).

I just remembered one of the other reasons we added an explicit "home" link
to our prime nav, and it's a great case of the tail wagging the dog.

We participated in the NNg Intranet Design annual every year, and were
dinged the year before for not having an explicit Home link (even tho our
logo had always taken you home). We added it, in part, to appease the gods,
so to speak.

There are more than a few reasons why I don't work there anymore, but the
above is one of the more interesting ones.

Bryan
http://www.bryanminihan.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Micah
Freedman
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] "home" links

In a casual review, I found very few major brands using a "home" link,
but my clients often seem to expect it. I like the "'home' on
rollover" pattern. I generally hate the "tiny 'home' embedded in the
logo" one. And in the interest of making things as clean as possible,
I generally prefer to leave the "home" link off unless there's a
compelling reason to have it.

4 Feb 2008 - 3:30am
Jeroen Elstgeest
2008

>
> "Reset" notwithstanding, for many sites, the content on the home page
> is introductory, and the navigation is universal. Thus, if you're on
> an inner page, and you want to go somewhere else, there's really no
> reason to go home to do it. There are plenty of exceptions of course
> (a newspaper site comes to mind). And plenty of people go to google
> and type "amazon.com" into the search bar even though "there's no
> reason to do it".
>

Like Joseph said: "If "Aunt Tilly" is a significant user type, or actual
persona, then by all means include home in the main navigation."

I find your remark a little degrading to 'the user'. Not all of them are
internetsavvy people like us and some of them need a "reset" kind of
function. The users on our site for example type "google.com" in our Google
enhanced internet searchbox (Google logo included).

Jeroen Elstgeest

4 Feb 2008 - 10:51am
Jeff Seager
2007

Another advantage of the "reset" function that I've used a lot
myself: You're exploring a site and, the more you see, the more you
think you might like to come back again. You don't necessarily want
to bookmark the page where you figured that out; you probably want
the introductory page.

It's a common occurrence for users, and that "home" function is
familiar enough to grab without manually editing the URI in the
browser's address bar. Breadcrumbs are good for that, too.

I don't think the numbers tell everything about the usefulness of
this or any other function (I've only needed a seatbelt once, but I
was glad to have it), so Bryan's data doesn't surprise me. Some
familiar controls may be worth keeping for the sake of user comfort
and convenience, more than pure function.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25499

4 Feb 2008 - 11:01am
Paul Eisen
2007

Jeff said, "I don't think the numbers tell everything about the
usefulness of this or any other function (I've only needed a seatbelt
once, but I was glad to have it), so Bryan's data doesn't surprise me.
Some familiar controls may be worth keeping for the sake of user comfort
and convenience, more than pure function."

I *love* the seatbelt analogy, Jeff. So often we as interaction
designers get caught up in designing to reflect or incent usage
patterns, and forget the importance of communicating brand image - such
as trust and confidence - through design elements.

Paul Eisen
Principal User Experience Architect
tandemseven

4 Feb 2008 - 9:25am
rui ramos
2008

In addition to what Joroen just said, I'd like to ask you guys how does
the "home on rollover logo" helps "Aunt Tilly" to find her way to the
home page, providing she has no idea about the logo working as a
navigational item.

I mean, if you have a clue about this "standard", it's obvious that the
rollover helps you knowing that everything works as expected. But if you
don't, are you just supposed to hover the logo by luck, and then
realizing what it does?

That said, I'll stress the opinion that it depends on who you are
designing for, and on the site's information structure.

Rui Ramos

4 Feb 2008 - 1:35pm
David Talbot
2008

I think that whether to put a "home" link on the menu or on the logo or both
should depends, as it was previously said, on the kind of public that your
site is designed for.

I personnaly got an issue with the "Home" button of one of my sites. I used
to put it in the logo because I thought it was standard and would be found
by everyone (I also read somthing about this idea in Krug's book).
Unfortunately I was wrong and I got complaints from some users that they
could not go back home unless by hittin the browser's "back" button. So I
added a "home" link, but I also let the link on the home button too. In my
case, this is a site for eco-tourism and people who will surf on it might
not know web standard. I guess should have considered this in the beginning.

David

4 Feb 2008 - 3:49pm
SemanticWill
2007

There is never a reason to not make the logo also a home link - there is no
cost, and many people actually do understand that it is a pseudo-standard.
But an explicitly labeled home link in the global (not local) navigation is
equally - if not more important. Unless --- your site info arch lends itself
well to breadcrumbs - and those are easily findable/readable (i.e. not size
5 font in light grey next to a silly flash movie) - then home in the
breadcrumbs is a good thing too. As Nielson (who is a weenie and his site is
still ugly and has terrible IA) - argues - there is no cost to breadcrumbs
either.

--
~ will

"No matter how beautiful,
no matter how cool your interface,
it would be better if there were less of it."
Alan Cooper
-------------------------------------------------------
will evans
user experience architect
wkevans4 at gmail.com
-------------------------------------------------------

On Feb 4, 2008 2:35 PM, David Talbot <herr.talbot at gmail.com> wrote:

> I think that whether to put a "home" link on the menu or on the logo or
> both
> should depends, as it was previously said, on the kind of public that your
> site is designed for.
>
> I personnaly got an issue with the "Home" button of one of my sites. I
> used
> to put it in the logo because I thought it was standard and would be found
> by everyone (I also read somthing about this idea in Krug's book).
> Unfortunately I was wrong and I got complaints from some users that they
> could not go back home unless by hittin the browser's "back" button. So I
> added a "home" link, but I also let the link on the home button too. In my
> case, this is a site for eco-tourism and people who will surf on it might
> not know web standard. I guess should have considered this in the
> beginning.
>
> David
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

4 Feb 2008 - 6:28pm
bminihan
2007

I agree that an explicit Home link is more or less cost-free, but wouldn't
claim it's more important than the home-linked logo (after watching dozens
of people click our non-linked logo (years past), bypass the explicit home
link, and sigh in frustration).

Also, breadcrumbs may be similar in cost to a home-linked logo - to the user
experience - but they far exceed the effort cost. Except in rare
circumstances, unless your site is 100% static and/or less than 30 pages, it
takes far more effort to build breadcrumbs than to link your logo to the
home page.

Bryan
http://www.bryanminihan.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of W Evans
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] "home" links

There is never a reason to not make the logo also a home link - there is no
cost, and many people actually do understand that it is a pseudo-standard.
But an explicitly labeled home link in the global (not local) navigation is
equally - if not more important. Unless --- your site info arch lends itself
well to breadcrumbs - and those are easily findable/readable (i.e. not size
5 font in light grey next to a silly flash movie) - then home in the
breadcrumbs is a good thing too. As Nielson (who is a weenie and his site is
still ugly and has terrible IA) - argues - there is no cost to breadcrumbs
either.

--
~ will

"No matter how beautiful,
no matter how cool your interface,
it would be better if there were less of it."
Alan Cooper

4 Feb 2008 - 6:41pm
Micah Freedman
2008

Actually, I don't think breadcrumbs or "home" links are cost free. The
quotation from Cooper in Will's signature makes the argument for me.
All else being equal, fewer links is better. And "home" links
frequently occupy the most prominent location in the navigation -- the
left-most spot. That's not to say the cost isn't outweighed by the
benefit in this case. Just that there's a weighting to be done. I do
agree that there's really no cost in making the logo a link, though
(other than a few seconds of developer time :-).

4 Feb 2008 - 9:02pm
Jeff Seager
2007

Paul said, "So often we as interaction designers get caught up in
designing to reflect or incent usage patterns, and forget the
importance of communicating brand image - such as trust and
confidence - through design elements."

I agree absolutely, Paul. I've been criticized before (not here --
not yet) for being too skeptical about various methods of measuring
human behavior. Those interpreted patterns, however carefully
measured, are biased at every step by assumptions we made in asking
the questions, transcribing the answers and assigning meaning to the
results. We may draw the right conclusions in spite of all that, but
we have to bring reality back into the equation sometime! There's a
time and place for our own humility, empathy and instinct, too.

Every time I visit my mom, I hear her frustrations about online
banking or ancestry.com or Google Search or something, so it's hard
for me to forget that what we do is for the benefit of actual human
beings like my very intelligent 71-year-old mom who has a love-hate
relationship with digital interfaces. We're not just pulling and
pushing data, but helping people (I hope).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25499

4 Feb 2008 - 9:42pm
Anonymous

You could split the difference with the Amazon treatment - the logo reveals
'homepage' on rollover.

On Feb 4, 2008 6:28 PM, Bryan Minihan <bjminihan at nc.rr.com> wrote:

> I agree that an explicit Home link is more or less cost-free, but wouldn't
> claim it's more important than the home-linked logo (after watching dozens
> of people click our non-linked logo (years past), bypass the explicit home
> link, and sigh in frustration).
>
> Also, breadcrumbs may be similar in cost to a home-linked logo - to the
> user
> experience - but they far exceed the effort cost. Except in rare
> circumstances, unless your site is 100% static and/or less than 30 pages,
> it
> takes far more effort to build breadcrumbs than to link your logo to the
> home page.
>
> Bryan
> http://www.bryanminihan.com
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of W
> Evans
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] "home" links
>
> There is never a reason to not make the logo also a home link - there is
> no
> cost, and many people actually do understand that it is a pseudo-standard.
> But an explicitly labeled home link in the global (not local) navigation
> is
> equally - if not more important. Unless --- your site info arch lends
> itself
> well to breadcrumbs - and those are easily findable/readable (i.e. not
> size
> 5 font in light grey next to a silly flash movie) - then home in the
> breadcrumbs is a good thing too. As Nielson (who is a weenie and his site
> is
> still ugly and has terrible IA) - argues - there is no cost to breadcrumbs
> either.
>
> --
> ~ will
>
> "No matter how beautiful,
> no matter how cool your interface,
> it would be better if there were less of it."
> Alan Cooper
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

4 Feb 2008 - 9:43pm
Anonymous

You could split the difference with the Amazon treatment - the logo reveals
'homepage' on rollover.

5 Feb 2008 - 8:07am
Julie Palmer
2007

There is another option that I haven't seen mentioned in this thread
yet. For a more explict link than the linking of the logo, instead of
taking up the left-most spot in a horizontal main nav bar or the top
spot in a vertical nav bar, you can put it with other unobtrusive,
ancillary links in the masthead/global header. That's the way we
solve for the problem with the delta.com redesign in 2005 (you'll
only on pages other than the home page) and it worked quite nicely.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25499

5 Feb 2008 - 1:07pm
jonesabi
2006

Ah, not showing the home button until you're away from home. This reminds me
of the <a href="http://nytimes.com">New York Times</a>. I can't click the
title of the paper or the home tab to refresh the front page (a frequent
want on intense news days/nights). I'm not using it to 'reset' myself in
browsing, but to see if a new story pops into the space above the fold. The
<a href="http://washingtonpost.com">Washington Post</a> does allow me to
refresh the home page by clicking on the aptly titled top left menu item
'News'.

Would I refresh the front page for an airline the way I do for the news?
Probably not, so the Delta implementation makes sense.

Do I refresh the Amazon front page? Yes, I want to see what new and wild
things they'll suggest.

This case goes to show that it is important to use your audience and the
purpose of the site in determining how to place a home link.

14 Feb 2008 - 10:17am
Nathan Philpot
2007

According to this article by Jacob Nielson, the Home button is still
needed.
A fairly large minority of users still don't know that they can get
to a site's homepage by clicking its logo, so I still have to
recommend having an explicit "home" link on all interior pages (not
on the homepage, of course, because no-op links that point to the
current page are confusing %u2014 yet another guideline we saw
confirmed again several times last week). It particularly irks me to
have to retain the "explicit home link" guideline, because I had
hoped to get rid of this stupid extra link. But many users really do
change very slowly, so we'll probably have to keep this guideline in
force until 2020 %u2014 maybe longer. At least breadcrumbs are a
simple way to satisfy this need.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25499

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