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I was wondering if the 'Home' button is still a must on a website menu, or are users already used to clicking on the Logo?

There is a qustion on ux.stackexchange.com about this topic - Home button vs Logo link but it is around 2 years old, and I'm curious if user expectations have changed? Because:

  • more and more sites do not have a 'Home' button
  • even huge sites like Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Android, HP do not use 'Home' button
  • and there are some sites who use a Home icon instead of a Home button

So I suppose most internet users learned that they have to click on the Logo to return to the Home site, but haven't seen any up-to-date study about this topic.

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An alternative to having a 'Home' button on the primary navigation is to add it to a Supplementary navigation at the top of the page: i.e. next.co.uk Personally, i'm a big fan of this. I did see a study a while back that found users didn't have problems with this route. I'll see if I can dig that study out. –  JonW Feb 20 '12 at 10:45
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Found the study I was referring to, although it doesn't actually cite any sources / figures so should be taken with a pinch of salt - epicbagel.com/blog/view/… –  JonW Feb 20 '12 at 11:25
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possible duplicate of Should I add a 'Home' Button to the navigation? –  ChrisF Feb 20 '12 at 12:05
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I wouldn't treat it as a duplicate, it's a question asking whether the findings of these older questions are still valid now. –  JonW Feb 20 '12 at 12:11
    
@JonW I had heard that a lot of users aren't aware that you can usually click the logo of a site to return home. I wouldn't depend on it but I don't have the data on it either. –  Ben Brocka Feb 23 '12 at 22:08
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8 Answers

up vote 24 down vote accepted

Looking through both the "Home button vs Logo link?" and "Should I add a 'Home' Button to the navigation?" questions on UX SE, the information in both is still quite relevant even though some of it is two years old or more. "Relevant" doesn't mean there's a clear-cut answer, and really there isn't going to be a clear-cut answer applicable to all. I don't mean this as a cop-out answer but really your users are going to tell you if a Home button is still a must or not, through some testing.

Some things to think about:

  • You mention that "huge sites like Facebook, Apple, Microsoft," etc do not have a Home link -- which I would counter by saying what is "home" at Facebook? Is it your profile, your news feed, or...? Without a discernible "Home", it's difficult to link to one.
  • Think about the value or the information on the "Home" pages at Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Target, Walmart: what is it on the "main page" of the site that is value-added enough to warrant the real estate for a top-level navigation element?
  • Same question as above, but for those sites that do have a "Home" link -- what about their content makes you think they need one?

Personally, I don't have a rule that I apply across the board, besides a rule in which we plan for one and if the content and potential user actions allow me to recapture that space by removing it, then we do it.

But the decision to remove it never comes before we do some A/B testing, and the threshold for keeping it is often pretty low. Meaning, if even 2 of 10 are confused by the lack of a link, or don't get that a logo links to "the page we have determined to be 'home'", then we put that explicit link in there. And really, that happens more than you'd think. I do not agree that most users know that logo == home, mostly because I've seen users not "get" that time and again (regardless of age, which in my experience has little relation to tech-savviness with regards to web use). But again, your users/potential users, and your content, will help whether or not it's still needed in your particular instance.

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"what is it on the "main page" of the site that is value-added enough to warrant the real estate for a top-level navigation element?" Very good point. If the homepage of the site itself provides a function then that should help guide whether or not to include a link to in it the navigation. –  JonW Feb 20 '12 at 13:32
    
I'm curious about the part you said about age and no correlation with tech savviness... how have you noticed it? Could it be anecdotal? –  Baumr Nov 28 '12 at 11:20
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As the original question noted, it depends on the internet savviness of your audience. On the whole, it's gone up of course, but it's still not universal by far. E.g. I'm sure that neither of my parents are aware of the "Logo convention". So, any site that's tailored to seniors should definitely have a Home button.

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Any site tailored to seniors? 'scuse me? Whether this convention is known or not has absolutely nothing to do with age. –  Marjan Venema Feb 20 '12 at 10:54
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Note that I gave seniors as an example; it's not the only group that's low on internet savviness. If you're targetting low-literate groups, the same would apply. But you're being PC at the detriment of your audience if you believe seniors are just as familar with the 'net as teenagers. –  MSalters Feb 20 '12 at 11:04
    
Perhaps I am over-sensitive, but it seems to me that many "young ones" seem way too quick to equate low-savviness with age. If you mean low-internet-savvy people, just say so and avoid prejudice-prone examples. –  Marjan Venema Feb 20 '12 at 11:22
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Common UX mistake. The audience is determined by business reasons, the UX needs follows from that. That's why my example started with a given audience, and deduced a UX need from that. "People with low internet savviness" just are not an audience. –  MSalters Feb 20 '12 at 11:41
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Some actual data that may help you make up your mind on this. In June 2011 the web consulting firm ProMediaCorp did a study of the top 500 websites (as defined by Alexa) and found that:

Of the websites checked, 37.4% of them link to the homepage in their site navigation, while 62.6% do not.

Now, just because the majority of major sites don't include it, that doesn't mean it should be 'The Rule'. Get some user testing on it aimed at your target audience to see if it's appropriate to leave it out of navigation. My personal rule-of-thumb is to include it on the page unless screen real-estate is really starting to be effected, and then look at the viability of leaving it off.

As I mentioned in my comment above, just because Home isn't available in the primary navigation doesn't mean it can't be included in a supplementary / utility navigation.

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Thank you for your answer! But I think there should be a general rule which I could apply in most cases. For exapmle we are currently designing a company website (industrial products) and I would like to decide if there is the need for a 'Home' link in the menu, or the 'Logo' is suffice. Unfortunately we do not have the chance to conduct usability test, so we have to decide. –  Roland Pokornyik Feb 20 '12 at 13:20
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Well in that case I think the answer from @jcmeloni hits the nail on the head here. "what is it on the "main page" of the site that is value-added enough to warrant the real estate for a top-level navigation element?" –  JonW Feb 20 '12 at 13:30
    
The main page is not so important in my case, so I will skip the 'Home' link from the menu. –  Roland Pokornyik Feb 20 '12 at 13:58
    
+1 for sourcing research data! –  Alexander Bird Mar 19 '12 at 1:57
    
+1 for relevant data on this –  greenforest Nov 25 '12 at 0:13
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You can think about it from a different perspective: Is the home page important to your users, or would a more contextual link be better? Consider this very page, these is no Home link to http://ux.stackexchange.com/, instead we have links to Questions, Tags, and so on. The homepage of this site is just the questions page, so there is no need to explicitly give the user a link to get there.

On the other hand http://www.promediacorp.com/ has a Home link that goes back to your the homepage 'portal', which contains a summary of the site content and helps guide the user to where they want to go.

Edit: Just realised that the home page of UX is not the same as the Questions link. They are so remarkably similar though that I'm not sure why there is the distinction.

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I think Home button is not necessarily anymore.

Most people are used to the Internet and they already know what to expect when clicking on the Logo.

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I think it depends on your potential target audience.

For example:

  • If your target audience is likely to be tech savy then it may not be necessary because most people understand that by clicking the logo in most cases may take you back to the homepage.

  • If your target is not tech savy then it may be worth adding a home button because individuals may not realize that clicking a logo will take you back.

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The use of a "Home" button depends on the type of site and content you are displaying but also on who your users are.

Some sites don't have traditional homepages Facebook does not have a home page... It has a News feed, a profile page and a login page but none of these can be described as a "Home page". So it doesn't make sense for every site to have something called a "homepage" anymore.

Some sites use a descriptive title Take for example Behance.net, this site uses "Gallery" as a descriptive title for the homepage that applies specifically to the context of the site's content: http://www.behance.net/

Lots of sites use the logo as the home link You're correct this seems to be a growing trend but unfortunately I don't have any research about how users experience this UI feature.

If you are looking for a happy medium between a home link and a link on a logo... The navigation on Balsamiq's site takes an interesting approach, where hovering over the logo triggers a fun prompt: "let's go home" http://www.balsamiq.com/products/mockups

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Personally, I find having both to be of immense use. At any given time, I will pick one or the other - choice is a Good Thing™ when it comes to usability!

The more ways to accomplish the same end goal you can give, the more people will be able to get done what they want to achieve.

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