Taking the guesswork out of website design and features
As a starting point for all web projects, we always research our clients’ target audiences and take time to map out the user journeys, making the process as simple and intuitive as possible for the target market.
This led to us asking ourselves, ‘do we need a ‘home’ button on a website navigation, or will a user know that clicking the logo will replace this button?’
We were building a site for a client whose target audience is ‘silver surfers’ and typically male and females 60+. We did some user research into this target group and looked at whether or not they would know that clicking a logo takes them to the homepage.
The results we found are interesting, but before we analyse the full results, we should look at a few examples of the world’s largest sites that don’t use a ‘home’ button, and a few of those that do.
There isn’t a clear pattern from the sites that use a ‘home’ link in their nav (YouTube, Wikipedia, Twitter, LinkedIn, Sky, Daily Mail, BMW, Heinz and ASOS), and those that do not (BBC, Google, Facebook, Sony, Microsoft, Amazon, eBay, AliExpress and CNN). Arguably, the sites that don’t use a ‘home’ button are those sites that someone would visit on a regular basis so knew what they were looking for and doing.
My original quest was to build an intuitive navigation for 60+ year olds, a target audience that might not always be used to using a logo as a journey to the homepage of a site. However, by using ‘heatmapping’ on the majority of our the sites that we have developed that include a home link in the nav, and a link to the homepage from the logo has shown us that as a whole these sites all have around double the amount of people using the ‘home’ button over clicking the logo.
However, the only exception to this rule is a site where the demographic is 60+ which is the interesting point we found from this research, and goes against the assumptions we made at the start of the exercise.
The real answer all comes down to the purpose of the project. Is the homepage a key area of the user journey? If it’s e-commerce, chances are the homepage won’t be used that much if a customer already knows the products they want and is landed directly on that page via the various marketing channels.
The age/browsing experience of the customer does play an important part in deciding if a ‘home’ button is needed. People who use the internet on a daily basis will comfortably use a logo to get to the homepage, our research for this blog post set to test 60+ year olds and if they used a ‘home’ link or a logo to get to the homepage, and this wasn’t proved.
We asked the question,‘do we need a ‘home’ button on a website navigation, or will a user know that clicking the logo will replace this button?’, and the answer isn’t definitive. We can make assumptions based on the sectors our clients work within and about their target audience before making a decision on using a ‘home’ button in the navigation or not, but the only true way of making an informed decision is to test the site.
The clear answer is to use the data we will get in our initial project kickoff to see how people are navigating around the current site and if the homepage is even used throughout a customer’s journey.
Do you need help understanding how your customers are using your website? If you’re looking for a digital partner for your next web project, get in touch.