Every website has one. Every website needs it. At least we do think it´s needed. The Homepage.
Do not trust the old and standard rules any longer. Times have changed, user behavior is different, consumption methodologies are new, visitors (internet users) have learned a lot.
Website owners haven´t. It seems. But they need to adapt to the visitor behavior. That means, it is most likely that the visitors do not enter your site via the homepage. But that is what it is built for, right? All links, all relevant content, all structure, all help functions are gathered on that platform.
While visitors enter your website via so many channels (mobile, tablet, referrer, landing page, social media, viral marketing, streaming etc.) the homepage is no longer the most important entry point. Maybe by percentage of entrances in total, but not by quality of entry.
Internet surfers don’t have time
Internet surfers love direct and fast info on topics or products they have been searching or shopping for. Yes, there is also a difference: if they search for something to buy their behavior is much different to the behavior after they bought something and do a research on add-ons, chats, user groups etc. about that product. Engagement is the magic word here.
So, they love fast output. That is why the homepage gets less important. When I bought a digital camera I was not looking on the homepages of Canon, Nikon, Olympus etc. I was looking in the results of my search engine after I entered different search words (digital camera, camera with optical zoom, digital camera test, etc.). This way I get to different portals, blogs and user platforms to get more insights in the product range of all those vendors. And within the chats, the user groups, the tests I clicked links to the relevant vendor-websites to see the details of the described cameras. I never came across a homepage. Not once!
Forget about old fashioned hierarchical structure
Homepage is Old School
Visitors are no longer entering and browsing websites by the traditional top-down approach and website owners should be acting on this change. Internal search functions need to be on every relevant site, not only the homepage. Product comparison needs to be on more than one area of the website, help functions like Call back button or bot-chat need to be on many different pages within the website.
What does this mean? Get away from hierarchical thinking. The homepage is no longer number one. It is the user behavior that is number one. It is the detailed check of entry points to your website that is number one. And it is analyzing those channels in terms of success (turnover, lead generation, feedback etc.).
The learned relevant homepage functions need to be everywhere the visitor enters your site. The visitor will be thankful (without actively noticing) that all required details and functionalities are available without being forced to click the company logo in the top left corner to get to the main menu, the search function or the website overview.
If you ruin the joy of use while surfing on your website, you ruin the relationship with the website-visitor. You ruin your business model. The more information about your company or your product can be found on the internet the more likely it is that a visitor does not enter your brand name and puts a “.com” behind it. Be aware of the change in the user behavior. If your online agency tells you the homepage is the most relevant spot at all, fire them and search for new experts to support you.
Welcome to the real online world.