The decreasing value of a homepage

One of the trends for 2009 has been the decreasing value of the homepage on websites. When I started in the world of the browser the homepage was the ‘be all and end all’ of the site. You had to get coverage on the homepage for your content to be viewed. Times have changed. With differing adoption approaches directing users to sites (email alerts, notifications, alias urls, rss feeds, bookmarking) the savvy online user now knows how to get direct to what they need rather than go through a busy, distracting homepage that disrupts, interrupts and annoys. Common website homepages now find ways to grab us by the arm and shout in our ears about how wonderful they are and how much we need their products and services.

On my intranet I see a similar pattern. The number of visitors accessing content via the homepage has decreased since our 2007 comparison (see statistics below).

Visits via homepage

  • June 2009 – 35,669
  • June 2008 – No statistics available*
  • June 2007 – 66,961
  • June 2006 – 66,690
  • June 2005 – 64,450
  • June 2004 – 60,202
  • June 2003 – 48, 324
  • June 2002 – 34,897
    *No site usage software was available in 2008.

    The overall number of visitors to the intranet and the page views garnered from these visits have remained consistent throughout 2004 – 2009, yet access via the homepage is dropping. Why?

    One of the key factors within our new intranet template design was the ability to create alias urls (the ability to give a content page its unique name in the form of a url – i.e. audit.insite/pages/CCH. This has allowed users direct access to the task they need to complete without a detour through the homepage.

    In June 2009 1,232, pages were used to access content on the intranet. Of the traffic to our main knowledge community sites in June 45% went directly into their sites without using the homepage navigation.

    The user now has far greater knowledge how to navigate online. With knowledge comes control. A user can control their journey to a key tasks far easier than ever before. This presents a greater challenge for a Content Manager tasked with getting content in front of a user. It requires greater focus on search, the words used, key navigation and your adoption approach rather than just publishing on your homepage. That approach won’t work. At best they’ll just ignore the content and at worst they’ll think the homepage is a waste of space.
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