Home is Where The User Is

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Home is Where The User Is

Out with the old ways of designing a website where there is a traditional landing (home) page and more basic interior pages.  We all know that search engines have been ranking individual pages rather than core domains for a long time now. So why are we still designing sites with static interior pages?

Our interior pages, posts, archives, download pages, login pages, including anything and everything on your site has to be more dynamic and be ready for direct traffic from users.

If you’re running a frequently updated site (blog, news site, etc…) a user is probably among the minority if they arrive on your homepage.  Instead they are arriving at your site either from searching a specific topic or asking a specific question which gets answered by a post you’ve written or someone they know / trust is sharing a link with them.  Either way they are bypassing the homepage.

Why Are Homepages So Important?

They aren’t, because homepage is an arbitrary term. In the past we went “home” to find our way back to the content we were looking for.  Now I can arrive at a site and spend minutes on it (in internet time that’s like hours) without every going to the homepage.

I honestly couldn’t tell you if Wikipedia, About.com or IMDB have revised their homepage in the last year or so.  I live inside these sites and rarely spend any time at home.

How Do We Make Our Pages More Dynamic?

Internal linking strategies, widgets, related posts lists and more all strive to help us find the next best thing on the site.  Give me as many non obtrusive reasons to stay on your site, show me interesting articles, or what other people are commenting on and I will be more than happy to stay on your site all afternoon.

I’ve arrived at this page for a reason, once I’ve successfully solved my problem I’m gonna leave.  Unless… you provide me with a reason to stay.  All I need is a provocative headline or proof that my peers find something interesting.

Try some of these ideas, most of them can be easily implemented as widgets or plugins in any great cms (like WordPress *wink*)

  • Trending Posts
  • Related Posts
  • Most commented on
  • Recent posts
  • Recent Comments
  • Specials or Coupons
  • Supporting Posts (posts previously written that support your current argument)
  • Powerful imagery
  • Newsletter, email or RSS sign up
  • Social Network streams
  • Links to Social Media Landing pages (pull in your social streams on your site so we know how active and popular you are)

Prime Example

While SEJ does a great job with this, you’re already here so let’s take a look at another site.

Mashable does a great job with this.  Take a look at the two images below.  One is of their homepage and one is an internal post page.  If I were to flash these in front of you for a brief second I’d bet you’d have a hard time stating which one is the homepage and which one is the post page.

The posts main content starts at basically the fold of the page.  This is a good strategy because you’ve already made the decision to click the link that brought you here.  At this point you know why you are here so we don’t need to give up prime above the fold real estate to reassure you that you’re in the right place.  Instead I want to spark your interest to what else this site offers you.  That way you’re more likely to hang out a while after you’re done reading this article.

mashable

Take a look out there and find some other great examples.  They are out there and you can find easy ways to improve your interior pages to promote longer “on site time”, subscription conversion and social media sharing / bookmarking.

Jesse Friedman
Jesse Friedman is a veteran WordPress developer. In 2012 he wrote the “Web Designers Guide to WordPress“. With years of experience as a speaker and... Read Full Bio
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