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Is a "home" button on the navigation required if there is a link to the homepage using the company's logo?

Increasingly I have noticed more and more websites using the logo as a link to return to home instead of a clear Home button in the navigation but haven't found any good proof or research to suggest that this is best approach.

Is there a best practice guidelines or some kind of criteria (e.g. advanced users vs beginners) that should aid in making this decision.

Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated. Thanks

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+1 for the great question. I have a similar question about whether or not I should include "home" in my site's navigation. Lots of great info here. –  Melanie May 5 '11 at 5:42
    
The answer is that we need research. Can someone quick do some? –  user9755 Nov 21 '11 at 17:53
    
possible duplicate of Should I add a 'Home' Button to the navigation? –  Jitendra Vyas Nov 22 '11 at 18:17
    
From a cost/benefit perspective, what do you have to lose if you have both? –  Mitch Malone Apr 20 '12 at 16:23

10 Answers 10

The logo should definitely link back to the home page (except when you are already on the home page). It has pretty much become a standard at this point - people expect it.

As for the Home button itself, I couldn't find any recent studies on that. I have done sites that include it and others that don't. Normally, I leave it as a business decision - if they demand it, I put it in, otherwise I leave it out. I can definitely say that recently, fewer and fewer clients have really wanted it there for the exact reason as above - the general understanding that the logo takes you to the home page is strong enough that they don't feel it's necessary and can use that screen real estate for something else.

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I don't know of any research into this but have noticed the same trend becoming more and more popular. The guys at Fhoke blogged about it a few months ago.

I'm not aware of any concrete proof that it either helps or hinders a users experience, but it seems to be widely accepted that the logo returns you to the home page so I presume that if a home button isn't present the default action would be to click the logo. I'd be interested to see if anyone had carried out any testing to specifically look into this.

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I'd always link the logo to the homepage. It's a convention that many of us are used to and it's frustrating when it doesn't work.

For visitors who aren't familiar with the convention, I'd suggest making it more discoverable by adding a cue on hover. Especially if you're doing away with the Home button.

For instance, if you hover over the logo on any Amazon page - other than the homepage - you get this: Amazon.co.uk homepage

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I agree that a hover over on the logo works well and validates the fact that the logo does link to the homepage. I wonder how many people on Amazon actually return to the hompepage (or use the navigation for that matter) and rely more on the Search. –  Oliver Gitsham Mar 13 '10 at 11:46
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Whilst some kind of 'activation indication' on the logo link is beneficial, I'm not sure it should be a replacement for an additional, clearly labelled "Home" link (unless, as pointed out, the site's audience is very web-savvy). Adding a hover style still requires people to go and hover their pointer over the logo, and many simply will not try that. –  Bobby Jack Jun 25 '10 at 11:12
    
This is a really cool feature. I think I may go with something like this for the "home" navigation on my site to make it more apparent. It'll take a bit for me to figure out to implement it as I am learning, but I think I will figure it out. +1 –  Melanie May 5 '11 at 5:43
    
If the logo looks like a button and when the user hovers over it, the logo slightly depresses... you may have something. –  jberger Nov 22 '11 at 15:15
    
Note that this does get confusing when the paradigm is broken... Once you are in the "Checkout" process on Amazon, the logo no longer functions as a home link (probably to increase conversion, but also has potential to increase confusion or frustration). –  saritonin Nov 22 '11 at 17:53

this is so funny, I was JUST going back and forth with my team about this this week ona project we're working on. They agreed that the logo should link back to home - I think everyone responding is in agreement on that - but I think the question really should be "Do we still need to include a home button in the nav?" They didn't want a home nav button, and I had put one in there.

I almost always do, just because I feel that unless you're cramped for nav space, there's no reason not to. I wouldn't normally fight for it, but in this particular case, although one user set will be young and tech savvy, there is another, less-savvy group that could potentially be using the site to buy that younger, tech-savvy group the prodct as a gift. Making gifting easy was a core business requirement, so they clearly acknowledge that there will be many visitors to the site that are not actually going to be the product's end-user, but they overruled me and the home button was removed from the nav.

I haven't been able to find anything definitive in terms of standards one way or the other - I guess I just always include a home button out of habit, or out of concern for the older generation that doesn't always pick up interface designs that have become unofficial standards over time. I'm really curious to see if there is any hard data on this. I don't want to be designing UI's a particular way simply because it's a habit, but on the other hand I feel that hiding something as important as your homepage through obscure navigation doesn't seem wise.

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Many users don't know about logo link convention, so it's best to have a clear signpost for homepage.

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I disagree, Charles. Maybe it's standard for more tech savvy people, but my mom doesn't know that clicking on a site's logo should take them home. This is made worse by the fact that many sites don't actually do that (much to my dismay). My "standard" is that when my mom figures it out, it's widely accepted enough to count on. –  snipe Mar 14 '10 at 4:51
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I like it. The "mom test" :) –  Nathanael Boehm Mar 14 '10 at 19:45
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Nathaniel - I'm so not even kidding. We joke that she hould have been a software tester - only I don't think she knows that a software tester does, so I do most of the laughing. She's been working with computers in some capacity for 15 years, and when I ask her what email client she's using, she replies "Vista". Google is her ISP, and she doesn't realize she can type urls into the menu bar of a browser instead of going to a search engine. Oh, and when I ask her what browser she's using, she has no idea, and sometimes says Google. And there are lots of people out there just like her. –  snipe Mar 14 '10 at 20:37
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Charles, you will be amazed! youtube.com/watch?v=o4MwTvtyrUQ –  Adrian Mar 15 '10 at 11:51
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You'd be surprised at how useful the Mom test is! Works for me as well. –  Janel Mar 16 '10 at 10:04

It depends on the audience of the site. For a site like UX Exchange, where people understand the web deeply, the logo link would suffice. That saves screen real estate and lessens visual noise.

For others, having both is best. Facebook, among many other sites, has both. It tracks the number of clicks by having distinct URLs (if you come from the homepage, http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo and http://www.facebook.com/#!/?ref=home ). Their tracking of clicks must have given them reasons to retain having the two links.

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This is a valid point, it definitely depends on the type of site and it's audience. It makes sense to use analytics to justify it either way. –  paulseys Mar 13 '10 at 8:22
    
thought: hover on home could change both logo and home button appearance and the other way around, so the user knows it's taking them to the same place. –  ino Jun 9 '11 at 8:39
    
+1 for audience –  jberger Nov 22 '11 at 15:14
    
+1 for catching the ref=home, though now in 2014, twitter, g+, facebook they all adopted the home link for some reason –  Ayyash Mar 1 at 14:21

I put both links since not everyone is familiar with the fact that clicking the logo takes them back to the homepage.

Also another reason I do this is to not lose the ability to highlight the current section (in the navigation) when you're on the homepage. There are a plenty of sites out there that have homepages with URIs like http://example.com/page/?something=something, which could mislead users into thinking that they're not on the homepage (or that they're in the homepage of a sub-section or something).

Hope this helps.

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If you look at some quantitative data that SURL (The Software Usability Research lab) published a few years ago, the expected location of the home link is on the top left of the page:

http://www.surl.org/usabilitynews/81/webobjects.asp

This doesn't point towards a preference for logo versus explicit text link, but it shows where users expect the link. Using some qualitative research you can find out if your users will understand.

It really does depend on your site. Amazon do the nice rollover state, Apple use their logo, Facebook uses the logo. I think that we're moving towards logo only being the standard, but you do need to cater for your particular users.

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Great link, Alex - thanks! –  snipe Mar 16 '10 at 16:30
    
Thanks snipe - it's a great resource! –  Alex Horstmann Mar 17 '10 at 13:48
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top left, surely? –  Bobby Jack Jun 25 '10 at 12:19
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Sorry, yes! Top left - thanks Bobby! –  Alex Horstmann Jul 16 '10 at 16:11

Linking homepage from logo in interor pages is an standard. You should do user testing to see how unskilled users can back to homepage. I like to have breadcrumb navigation that links home and upper categories. Others prefer include Home as a global navigation option.

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One aspect to consider is whether the user even needs to go home in the common use case. For sites like facebook where the home page provides lots of function it makes sense to make it very clear how to get home.

With a site like amazon, the home page provides little function other than advertising for various amazon services at the time, but most users are looking for something specific and will spend most of their time in search or categories. They will probably never need to return to the home page. In such a case they could almost get away with not having a home button at all!

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Its an interesting idea. This possibility was discussed in a previous question: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/14696/… –  JonW Jul 21 '12 at 7:59

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