Should I have a Home button?

February 23, 2011

Cottage, by boocal on flickrRight now I am occupied with beta testing my web clinic service, and one of the questions that is coming up is whether (in these modern, artistic, web-savvy times) the little button that says ‘Home’ is really needed.

Yes. Yes it is.

1. People know less than you think

While it’s true that people are more web-savvy these days, this is not universal. I have sat through many, many website testing sessions where people laboriously find their favourite websites through the search engine every single time.

More people than you would believe just don’t know that the company logo or the blog banner will take them to the site homepage.

2. A Home button is like a bright beacon on a stormy sea

If you have an intricate website, your users can get lost in its depths.  There comes a point where they lose their way and they want to reset things to look again.  A homepage button is an easy little reset. Home! Yay!

You don’t understand! None of the cool kids have homepage buttons! I’m an artist, it’s going to ruin everything if I have a lame 1990s link to my homepage! AAAARGH!

3. But if it matters that much…

It’s always up to you in the end.  Simple blog with few pages, strong artistic sensibility, high tech audience: maybe.

Anyone else:  just put it in and get on with something more important.  There.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bobbob February 23, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Can’t the title just be clickable to take you home? That saves you a button, which is a good thing. And it’s pretty standard and intuitive. I think.

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Anonymous February 23, 2011 at 6:01 pm

‘it’s pretty standard and intuitive. I think.’

Well, that’s the thing. About a minute after I published this, someone from Econsultancy posted on findings from recent usability interviews with online shoppers – only 2/9 knew the rule. That fits with my experience of interviewing users.

I also think that confusion is a bad emotion to create in site visitors – although often hard to avoid entirely :-) .

I also see a lot of home-coded sites, typically for small businesses, where they’ve broken the rule inadvertently, and as a consequence some stuff is totally unfindable.

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