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We are currently having a "discussion" in our company about Home pages. We have some users who express the opinion that "The home page should always be the home page, and never change". Thus, when a user clicks the home link or the brand logo they should be taken to the home page in all circumstances.

Now, I agree in principal... but the problem is that many types of sites don't really have "home pages" in the traditional sense. If you go to Amazon, the home page is the home page. But if you go to your bank website, the home page is where you login to access your account. Once you are logged in, you don't want to send people back to the place where they login. I think that would be confusing.

So I tend to think of the root page of the site for those kinds of sites as landing pages, but no in the traditional sense of being redirected from an ad link or external site.

Our company has a number of web properties, and they all have similar designs.. they tend to have the root of the site be a "sales" page or call to action page, and you may be able to visit several other informational pages without logging in. These pages are designed to get you to register and/or purchase a membership.

Once you log in, you are given access to the content or the functionality of the site, and you typically have a users dashboard, or a new root of content.

So the question for the experts is: What's better? Disallowing users to go back to the sales/landing pages, and redirecting them to their content/dashboard home? or redirecting them back to the original home page when they click home?

Should the root page even be called a home page? What should it be called? How should this work?

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your bank example is flawed: the home page is your account page in your example, but if you are not logged in you will be directed to the login page. "one page" can be different for logged in vs not-logged in users obviously. –  Nanne yesterday
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2 Answers 2

Document Hierarchy

First, you have to understand that the Home Page originates from the concept of a document hierarchy. Where the top most document is referred to as the home, and all child documents in sub-categories are it's descendants. To navigate from any given point in the hierarchy to the top was to return Home.

Document Structure When Applicable

A Home Page is only possible when a document structure exists in the current context. There are many possible website designs that don't follow a hierarchy, and therefore a home link isn't effective. pinterest.com has a never ending image feed as you scroll down, and some other websites have everything on a single page.

Why Go Home?

In a document hierarchy the most common place to locate the table of contents is at the top on the first page. From there you can navigate deeper into the hierarchy. If you don't keep meaningful links on your home page, then why send visitors there? There is no rule that says the home page has to be the table of contents, and more websites are relocating these links to sub-sections like /news or /blog where people can discover deeper content.

Home Page Virus Landing-Page

A home page and a landing page are the same thing. They both represent the top-level of a document hierarchy. Many websites create micro-sites that have their own home page, and use that home page as a landing page for marketing campaigns. When a visitor arrives at the micro-site they can read/discover information regarding the promotion they landed on.

When a visitor is in a micro-site the Home link may take them back to the landing page rather then the main domains root. This is perfectly acceptable, because the landing page can be thought of as the table of contents for the micro-site. As long as the visitor is able to quickly find what they need. There is no problem.

Q&A

What's better? Disallowing users to go back to the sales/landing pages, and redirecting them to their content/dashboard home?

Relative context is important to users. There is no benefit in directing them to the sales page if they have already purchased. You should not block those pages, but simply take them to their dashboard. If someone says but then they can't..... then the problem is with the dashboard, not where you redirected them.

or redirecting them back to the original home page when they click home?

For logged in users. Move the Home link to the footer, and replace the upper menu Home options with the word My Dashboard or My Home, and then take them to their dashboard.

Should the root page even be called a home page?

Technically, http://www.example.com/ is the home for that entire domain, and http://www.example.com/blog/ is the home for the blog, and http://www.example.com/blog/features/ is the home for the features category. Home is relative.

What should it be called?

I don't know when the word Home started to be used, but it's actually the table of contents and that doesn't sound very good. So call it anything that explains this page gives you info about other pages. Words like Home, Portfolio, Gallery, Folders, Contents, Categories, etc. can all be thought of as home pages. It's all relative to what they index.

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Home page

Any logo on your page should always take you back to the same page every time you select that logo, regardless of where you are.

However, in examples where the concept of what the home page is changes, the logo should change to reflect that.. In a bank website, the main logo may be "ABC Bank" but for the internet banking part of the site, it could be "ABC Bank online banking".

StackExchange does this well in the way that the meta part of the site is branded differently from the rest.

enter image description here enter image description here

Clicking in the UX Meta logo will take you to the home page of the meta, while clicking on the normal UX logo will take you to the UX questions part of the site.

Landing page

The landing page is not necessarily the same as your home page. Your landing page is whatever page you choose to have people land on when they go to the root of your domain. That can be different for different users, and so the landing page is not necessarily a single page.

Go to facebook.com in a browser in incognito mode (if you don't have that, switch to Chrome and make the world a better place), and go to the same page when you are logged in. Each is a landing page, but for a different type of customer.

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In the case of meta, they're two different sites, with two different UI designs. Are you suggesting that the call to action pages should be a separate actual site from the service that's being called to? That seems confusing as well. –  Erik Funkenbusch Feb 15 '13 at 23:54
    
@MystereMan They are functionally different areas in the same site, even if they are on subdomains. The same is true for banking where the area that gives general information to people, and the area for internet banking are functionally different. If you want the logos to link to different pages, the logos should be different. –  JohnGB Feb 16 '13 at 0:01
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