Can You Do Without a Homepage?

I have had some conversations lately about websites without the traditional homepage.
First, of course, there are blogs that are just blogs. They may have an associated “About Us” page or other related pages, but a blog can be the heart of the website, and the primary landing page.

A site of this kind can be limited in its function. Seth Godin has a site centered on a blog, with additional satellite sites for his books, his services as a speaker, and so on. A vet trying to reach a local audience? It might not work. However, if you want to avoid a home page, this may be an option.

Then there are splash pages — a page that has little more than the name of the company and a bit of rudimentary navigation, sometimes no more than “enter.”

We’re working on a site right now for an artist who has this idea in mind. She’s thinking she can use a nearly blank page to direct people to her portfolio and her blog in a creative and unusual way. One concern with this type of page is that it’s hard to get enough content on the splash page to get good rankings with the search engines. The client may not care about search right now, but it could become an issue in time.

Then there are mini sites or commerce-oriented landing pages living at a main site’s domain. They may be almost an ad or sign-up sheet for a particular event or project. The big question is: do we need a home page?

I think the answer has to come from the user journey.

How is your user going to approach your site, and what will he or she do once arrived? Another site I’m working on right now is for a brick and mortar store. We think that someone going to this website is likely to want the location or phone number of the store, information about their products, or perhaps a look at any current special offers. Customers wanting to get that data quickly would get tired of an artistic splash page pretty quickly. They don’t want to click repeatedly to get what they want.

But the visitor to the mini-site we’re working on will likely approach it by searching for the product, and that will be an appropriate landing page for that visitor. Should they have to go in through a homepage introducing the company and all the other things they do, or would they perhaps like to get right to the product?

Make a guess, and test the guess before you make up your mind.


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