Let’s continue the Website Workout by starting to look at specific areas, beginning with the home page. We’ll spend a couple posts going over this page. As we look at it, keep in mind the purposes of your website, and design considerations.
It’s natural to assume that the home page is the most important page of your website. It has a special place, yes, but it’s not as important as it used to be. Your home page is reached almost exclusively by people who type in the address directly, or who follow a link to the root address. But most visitors these days arrive at your site through the use of a search engine. Search engines index web pages, not web sites, and visitors may well be led to something other than your home page. Even a link someone shares will likely be to a specific page.
All that is to say that while your home page is important, you cannot assume that it will be the first page people see, or even that every visitor to your website will see it at all. Any crucial details that all visitors should see will need to be available in other ways than just showing on your home page. That may mean that essential information appears in the sidebar, the footer, or even within the body of the other pages. If you have such items in the sidebar or the footer, you will need to make sure that they are distinct enough in their presentation that they do not seem redundant. Of course, you could have different sidebars or footers on the home page.
For today’s workout, look at what information, links, and images are on your home page. What is it vital that every visitor know? Is that information already found throughout your site, or will you need to expand its availability?
Also, what is on your home page that isn’t so important? Is there something there which just clutters the room?
Thoughts on how the home page should look have evolved through the years, and will surely change again. The next post will explore the current ideas of what makes a great home page, and let you see how your site measures up.