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5:6 Ensure the Homepage Looks like a Home Page

Relative Importance:

Relative Importance rating of 4 out of 5

Strength of Evidence:

Strength of Evidence rating of 4 out of 5

Document Type: Guideline


Topic:

Page Structure - Homepage


Guideline:

Ensure that the homepage has the necessary characteristics to be easily perceived as a homepage.


Comments:

It is important that pages 'lower' in a site are not confused with the homepage. Users have come to expect that certain actions are possible from the homepage. These actions include, among others, finding important links, accessing a site map or index, and conducting a search.


Sources:

  • Farkas, D.K. & Farkas, J.B. (2000). Guidelines for designing web navigation. Technical Communication, 47(3), 341-358.
  • Ivory, M.Y. & Hearst, M.A. (2002). Statistical profiles of highly-rated web site interfaces. Proceedings of CHI 2002, 367-374.
  • Ivory, M.Y., Sinha, R.R., & Hearst, M.A. (2000, June). Preliminary findings on quantitative measures for distinguishing highly rated information-centric web pages. Proceedings of the 6th Conference on Human Factors and the Web. Retrieved November 2005, from http://www.tri.sbc.com/hfweb/ivory/paper.html.
  • Lynch, P.J. & Horton, S. (2002). Web Style Guide (2nd Edition). New Haven, CO: Yale University Press. Retrieved November 2005, from http://www.webstyleguide.com/index.html?/contents.html.
  • Nall, J., Koyani, S.J., & Lafond, C. (2001, January). Lessons learned while usability testing the CancerNet Web site. National Cancer Institute, Communication Technologies Branch Technical Report.
  • Nielsen, J. & Tahir, M. (2002). Homepage Usability: 50 Sites Deconstructed. Indianapolis, IN: New Riders Publishing.
  • Tullis, T.S. (2001). Web usability lessons learned. Fidelity Center for Applied Technology Technical Report. Fidelity Investments.

Good Example:

This homepage has characteristics that help ensure that it is distinct from second and third tier pages:
  • Masthead with tagline;
  • Distinct and weighted category links listed in order of priority; and
  • All major content categories are available.

05_06_good_example

The second and third tier pages use a less visually imposing masthead and specific content.