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Why has it become an industry standard for logos to redirect a user to a website's homepage?

Where was this first seen?

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    It's been around for a long time, mentioned here in 2001:nngroup.com/articles/113-design-guidelines-homepage-usability – Matt Rockwell Jul 20 '15 at 15:38
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    While I do like logos which redirect me to the homepage, experience has taught me that this is not intuitive for the average user. For 100% of my support calls in which the solution was to "Go to the home page and do XYZ", the user tells me "There is no Home button on the website". I then have to gather my marbles and say "Click on the logo in the upper-left". So in conclusion, make sure it's kool-aid before you drink it. ux.stackexchange.com/questions/5003/home-button-vs-logo-link – MonkeyZeus Jul 20 '15 at 16:58
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    "this is not intuitive for the average user" - I suspect this claim may be a bit broad. When being asked to "go to the home page", my first reaction would be shortening the URL to the domain-only part, and if I somehow fail to do that, I would go back to a search engine and search for the website. It wouldn't occur to me to use the logo. However, the other direction is more intuitive IMHO - when I happen to notice the logo is a link, I do not have to check where it leads to; I will instinctively assume the link to point to the home page as the most logical destination. – O. R. Mapper Jul 21 '15 at 7:22
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    @O.R.Mapper It's not too broad and you do not sound like an average user; especially when taking into consideration your rep on this site and SO. The average user has not learned how to fish yet and has been receiving free fish for quite some time. The process which you elaborated would be considered mind-blowing for the average user. – MonkeyZeus Jul 21 '15 at 12:51
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    @MonkeyZeus I suspect that your experience has more to do with the fact that there exists a class of users to whom nothing is intuitive... and there is a strong selection bias for those users to call tech support. – Kevin Krumwiede Jul 22 '15 at 7:35
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Where was this first seen

This practice dates back at least to the earliest days of image hyperlinks. For example, the Internet Archive's earliest snapshot of Yahoo's home page from October 1996 has a clickable Yahoo! logo.

enter image description here


Why has it become an industry standard?

1. Convention

  • Conventions are self-perpetuating. Given the ubiquity of this practice, users often expect something to happen when they click on a logo, so it's now awkward if nothing happens. There is, obviously, a chicken-and-egg circularity to this argument but that is why many conventions persist and also why they perpetuate.

2. Semantics

  • Originally, hyperlinks were used primarily to denote semantic content elements which a user could follow to a related page. The logo for a company is similar to the name of the company or a person: it has semantic meaning. So for the same reason it would make sense to hyperlink a key person's name or a company's name, it would make sense to hyperlink a logo.

  • Why hyperlink to the home page rather than a page about the company? Because the user is already on the Company's site so there is a need to figure out what the likely intent of a user is. Since the user could be visiting any page on the site with any context, the most reasonable destination for clicking the semantic logo element is the company's home page: by design, a default starting point for any visitor to the company.

3. Design

  • Going "back to home" is a very common interaction for users browsing a corporate website. At the same time, an extra home button may be undesirable or awkward to place on a site for various reasons. Since it's usually desirable to keep the company logo on most pages on a website, it's a common design choice to use #1 and #2 above to use the logo as the home button for the site.

    • As JonW noted in a related question a while back, about 63% of top sites do not offer an explicit home page button, relying instead on the logo/company title.
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    Actually, the link of the Yahoo page you've used as illustration is even more advanced: the link target seems to depend on the coordinates of the click within the picture. I suppose it was kick-ass technology back then. – Dmitry Grigoryev Jul 21 '15 at 13:52
  • It's also very handy when developing a site; so most website developers will add it without being asked to just to make their life a little easier. This is especially true when the menu isn't quite worked out yet. – krowe Jul 22 '15 at 4:17
  • +1 great answer to my questions! If there's a guy out there claiming to be the first person to make use of this now common practice, don't be shy! ;) – C_B Jul 22 '15 at 16:40
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    @DmitryGrigoryev Do remember, this was before DHTML and JavaScript (or even CSS, really) were broadly supported. It's all pure HTML, using image maps. It has the nice side-effect that each of the buttons, even though all part of one image, have their own href - you even see it in the URL tooltip in your browser. – Luaan Jul 23 '15 at 6:53
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It's become standard because everyone does it.

Everyone does it because it's nice to have a 'home' link but it's not something that needs to clutter the menu, either. Hence the idea to just make the logo link to the home page.

Not sure if anyone can answer where this was first seen. But I recall doing it close to 2 decades ago so I think its been around for a while.

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    Like you @DA01, I can remember doing this around the mid-90s. I think the rationale we used was that the homepage represented the face of the company therefore the company name should go to the homepage... or something like that. But I don't recall any research being done into why this worked. – Andrew Martin Jul 20 '15 at 15:45
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    I've been adding the logo link since the late 90's too. It was standard usability then but I don't think there was any reason for it except that it became popular, so people assumed it was required and became standard. I'm not sure any research was ever done. – Tony UK Jul 20 '15 at 16:01
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    At this point, I'm usually dismayed when the logo does not go back home. Twenty years of UX training has done us well. – phyrfox Jul 20 '15 at 17:26
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    Not everyone. Many people are not ised to the web conventions and thus require a link to the homepage – BlueWizard Jul 20 '15 at 22:14
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The existing answers claim that it is done merely because it has become a self fulfilling standard. That may be partially true but neither are UX answers and they miss out why it is intuitive.

A user often clicked on a site logo to get to your site, so it is consistent and makes perfect sense for any click on the same logo to take you back to that same entry point.

It is specifically the name and concept of 'home' which is a construct that will be unfamiliar to new users. To many people the homepage is the page that opens up in their browser (google?) and has nothing to do with your site at all. It is that concept/terminology that causes confusion and should be avoided.

  • There's no place like Home? – user67695 Sep 12 '16 at 18:21
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I believe the simplest answer to the primary question is based on the following logic:

  • If it didn't link to the home page, then where else?
  • If it didn't link anywhere, wouldn't that be a waste?

It's desirable to hyperlink anything that can logically and unambiguously be linked in the context.

Therefore I would say it is no accident of 'self-perpetuating' effect. The two points above lead directly to the common practice.

Which is largely what @tohster said in his point #2, but I don't see why points #1 and #3 necessarily need to be invoked to explain why it is standard.

  • Is it only logical though because it has always been done? If a complete stranger to the web logged on to a site where the 'home' button was absent, do you think it's logical (bearing in mind it's their first time using the internet) for them to click on the logo to return to the home page? – C_B Jul 22 '15 at 16:36
  • @C_B: I agree with your sentiment. But the question was not about whether it is a logical replacement for an explicit 'Home' link. The question was why the link on the logo is standard practice. – spechter Jul 23 '15 at 6:14
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    P.S. No, it's not only logical because it has always been done. It's logical because it follows the hyperlink paradigm: "You click the picture/text of what you want to get to what you want.". If you click an organisations logo you don't expect to land at the basement, or stay where you are, you expect to land at the front door. i.e. The home page. – spechter Jul 23 '15 at 6:26
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Your question contains answer in itself because of word 'Navigation'

Navigation

When a user views a website and wants to go to the home page there will have to be a link to the home page. If the website LOGO is not linking to the home page then the user will have to select a "home" link on the Navigation bar.

Users familiar with Big Brand sites are already comfortable with this technique. It totally depends on you whether you want follow the same convention followed by world

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