Analyzing Home

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The “Home” link has been a staple on almost all of the Web sites I’ve made in the past 5 years, but lately I’ve been wondering how important it is.

I heard Steve Krug at An Event Apart Boston 2007 talk about how the “home” link should always be list first in your navigation, but do we really even need it at all?

All the way back in 2000 Jakob Nielsen challenged the notion that we need main navigation on a site. While I do think navigation is important (for most sites), I’m not so sure about the link labeled “Home”. Most of the major sites we all visit have them, but how often are they used?

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Let’s face it, the home page is even starting to die off. With the influx of RSS and sites like digg, stumbleupon, delicious, and countless others, it’s very likely that a user will never even see your home page. They’ll just jump from article to article through their RSS reader or the latest and greatest from Digg (if you can be so lucky).

UI and user-centric design is so important right now, it has us re-thinking everything about Web development and how we design a site. As I build a site now, I actually stop and analyze every piece of a site from time to time. Everything from the search function to the contents of the footer.

I hear a lot of complaints from users of sites that don’t have their logo linked up to the home page, but I’ve never heard a complaint from someone navigating a site without a home link.

There are some popular sites that have already adopted this style of navigation:

Only the logo will get you to the home page… but i’m sure someone out there will scour those sites for an exception

I think, at this point in the Web, it’s perfectly acceptable to drop the “Home” link and use your logo as the only means to get back to your home page. But next time you’re putting together a site, really ask yourself: is a “Home” link is adding anything to the user experience, or is it just taking up space?

I’m pretty sure mine’s just taking up space.