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The slow death of the homepage is underway, in the sense that there no longer is a “home” page i.e. a page that acts as the only entranceway for visitors to access a website and its vast content.

The emergence of side doors generated through search engines, social media, mobile devices and more has morphed the homepage into a way for companies to brand themselves online rather than act solely as an access point.

This isn’t all that surprising. With the emergence of search engines, social media and mobile devices, the way consumers interact with websites has drastically changed. It’s now about searching for key terms, sharing socially with friends and accessing bits of information from anyplace, anytime.  

Take the New York Times, for instance. While the site received more than half of its visitors through its homepage in 2011, today it is seeing more than half of them entering the site through internal pages mostly due to search engines, Nieman Lab reports.


If the most popular news publication in the United States is seeing a huge reduction in homepage visits, it seems likely the situation is even more drastic for lesser known websites.   

This makes it more important than ever for websites to treat every page as if it’s the homepage. Visitors accessing side doors can be so far submerged in websites that they may never surface on the homepage...ever. 

We shouldn’t panic though. Spending a lot of time and energy on building out a homepage while leaving other pages ungroomed and dull is very fixable.

Below are a few tips to keep in mind when designing (or redesigning) a modern day website. 

Up the visuals

It’s no secret that our attention spans have waned. We’ve grown to love colorful visuals and catchy excerpts of words, so long as they remain short.

When branding a homepage, it’s important to avoid using long, drawn out descriptions and to make sure the homepage visually represents the brand we want our company, product or service to convey.

The homepage and internal pages should combine professionalism with beauty, which means using little content to say a lot and creating a layout that’s intuitive and easy on the eyes.    

Navigating should never be difficult 

Many websites have excellent navigation menus on the homepage, as they should. However, now more than ever it’s vital for websites to also have excellent navigation menus on every subsequent page.

If people click on a news article tweeted by a friend and enter a site through that side door, they should be presented with more ways to easily engage with that website (e.g. where to access the blog).

It’s important to make sure each page features the main navigation bar so users don't have to jump to the homepage in order to get somewhere else on the site.  

Ready, set...provide action

In addition to including navigation menus on every page, each website page should also include action items. These items can include anything from signing up for a company’s newsletter to sharing a particular page with friends on Twitter.

Or maybe it’s a way to contact the company. Each page, no matter how submerged in the website, should contain ways to interact and engage with the business.  

Make a great first impression

Given that the homepage now serves as a branding mechanism for businesses, the brand should carry over to all pages so visitors can get a clear grasp of where they are and who they’re visiting at all times.

This can include an intro header or quick greeting to welcome visitors to a website, whether accessing through the homepage or one of the many side doors.

Creating a great first impression, whether on the homepage or a subsequent page, is key in grasping and maintaining attention.  

Track, enhance, repeat

When a website is up and running, it’s vital to track its web statistics. This information is key in discovering what visitors like and don’t like about websites.

By tracking website analytics, we can get an inside look into the most popular pages, how visitors are accessing these pages (e.g. social media) and what search terms drive them to click.

It also tells us what devices are accessing what web pages the most, and if it’s mobile devices, what a perfect time to make them more mobile friendly.

Being able to cater our websites to visitors’ likes and needs can make all the difference in enhancing business online. 

Since the homepage no longer serves as the gateway through which all internet traffic flows, many now just access it to visually get a sense of what the company is all about.

Apple’s homepage is the perfect example of this transformation. Its homepage is extremely clean, simple and minimalist, perfectly reflecting the company’s brand.

Additionally, all subsequent internal pages are easy to navigate and visually heavy with little written content. 

Phillip Klien

Published 11 June, 2013 by Phillip Klien

Phillip Klien is CEO and Co-Founder of SiteApps and a contributor to Econsultancy.

3 more posts from this author

Comments (13)

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dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

Here were some tips I put together on this in 2007. Most still stand up ok I think!

1. If your homepage has ‘context’ information on it to orient new visitors, it may be worth including context elements in other pages
2. If your core content can only be accessed via the homepage, you may want to change your navigation so that it can be reached from anywhere
3. If a visitor first enters your site via a ‘deep’ page, you may want to try dynamically including a ‘welcome’ message to see whether it improves results
4. Keep an eye on your analytics to monitor the top entry pages to your site; add elements to those to welcome users into the site & make sure they’re fully orientated

And on the alternate role of the homepage, as a 'mid-session reorientation tool':

1. The homepage is /not just/ the front door to your website. In fact it is more like the central hallway
2. Visitors are not always comfortable relying on your top & side navigation – they will return to the homepage to reorientate & move elsewhere.
3. Don’t just put ‘welcome’ content on there. The homepage should provide easy paths to your valuable content.
4. As visitors will see the homepage several times & trust it, it may be useful for you to include ‘dynamic’ content areas to introduce them to different things (just make sure this is ‘additional’ content, rather than ‘core’ content, as visitors will expect core content to remain there consistently)

Oddly - if anything - I've seen homepages resurge someone over the last couple of years, partially due to tablets/mobile, partially due to Google's championing of 'brand'.

over 3 years ago



This is a good read. I like Apple website's clean and minimalism design. The thing is, does it go against SEO best practices about getting more content on the page above the fold?

Of course Apple can get away with it but what about others? Or I guess the answer is to distribute content across several pages?

over 3 years ago


Peter Levitan

Excellent article. Of course, another nail in the home page coffin is the growth of mobile viewership. There is a lot to take into consideration these days.

I have been analyzing ad agency websites of late (you can see lots on my Pinterest agency directory .. www.pinterest.com/peterlevitan)

Here is one thing i usually point to in my conversations with agencies... virtually 75% of all ad agency websites Contact pages look the same: a map and an info@XXXagency.com email adress. No real CTA or worse, a friendly approach.

over 3 years ago


Mike McGranahan

Fine advice, but this is completely unsubstantiated:

> If the most popular news publication in the United States is seeing a huge reduction in homepage visits, it seems likely the situation is even more drastic for lesser known websites.

There's no logical connection between these statements. Internal pages of sites, popular or not, are ranked highly by search engines because other resources on the internet link to those internal pages. (This is the basis for PageRank.) It doesn't seem obvious to me that site popularity alters the distribution of inbound links between home page and internal pages. One could argue that they would be similar, except that small, less known sites and their users seek not only to share internal pages, but also to spread the word about the site's very existence, leading to more home page linking.

over 3 years ago


Harold Compton

What I have seen is that the bulk of many of the links to a homepage are the ones created by the site owner while most of the internal ones were links created by other sites to the good content within the site.

over 3 years ago

Albie Attias

Albie Attias, Ecommerce Director at King of Servers Ltd

Nice visuals and beautiful design is all well and good but you should also aim to ensure your home page is aligned with your primary business objectives and caters for the different audience types it's likely to attract.

For example, an e-commerce site's goals might include:

• Generate sales for the products & services displayed online
• Generate account applications from new and existing customers
• Generate relevant new business enquiries. These include (in order of importance):
o Enquiries from new businesses
o Enquiries from existing clients
o Public relations enquiries
o Partnership enquiries
• Assist with client retention by providing a source of regularly updated, relevant and interesting content that has a genuine business value
• Generate newsletter subscriptions
• Establish credibility as a leading supplier

You'll clearly want to include elements on the page to enable the site to meet these goals (e.g. showcase top deal products, include account sign up form)

And sticking with e-commerce, whilst customers (new and existing) will be your primary target audience, don't completely neglect others such as press, partners and internal staff who might all refer to the site (and in all probability your home page for starters) as a source of information.

over 3 years ago

Malcolm Duckett

Malcolm Duckett, CEO at Magiq

Really this is just another case for dynamic personalisation. In Magiq we do this for our own site (dynamically adding appropriate additional navigation if you land on a deep-link, or adapting content based on the search term that commenced the session, or adapting content based on previous behaviour.)

The key thing to recognise is that today this is simple, cheap and effective to do - no need to build dynamic behemoths; a simple personalisation layer, applied in real-time via simple rules created and controlled by the marketing team will do the job.

One of our customers even uses Magiq to create dynamic microsites based on the visitor's location to support local TV station advertising they are running - simples!

over 3 years ago


Finlay Mure

Why dont companies reduce the reliance on navigation tools, and replace with advanced website search functions?

Meaning at any entry point they can always get what they want, quickly.

Within the search you can show relevant promotions, alternative suggestions and even personalise the results based on location for example.

over 3 years ago


Barry Mills, Offpeakluxury

I'm rather shocked and disappointed to find an article like this on E-consultancy. Usually, presenting digital stories that have been true for decades as new, plus a smattering of mis-information and bad guesswork, is the domain of mainstream daily newspapers.

There never was "a page that acts as the only entranceway for visitors to access a website and its vast content" at any time in the history of the web and nothing has changed in that regard.

"The emergency of search engines"??? At what point in the history of the web were there no search engines exactly? I launched one of the first digital agencies in 1995 and they were well established then, and they have always provided the bulk of web traffic. They were just as likely 18 years ago to direct people to internal pages. Actually, probably rather more likely, since the on page content was a much bigger determinant of ranking in SERPS than it is today.

Focusing design and CRO efforts on the home page alone has never made any sense, that hasn't changed in nearly 20 years. There IS a very specific issue for news sites in the increased influence of Google news over the last few years (it's hardly new - but this millennium at least), which does mean that if they don't have a strategy to combat it, their home page will get bypassed as users will adopt Google as their index/contents page. This doesn't apply at all to the majority of websites. Search engines have always deep linked and long tail searches have always been more likely to hit an internal page, but they still show up home pages far more often than any other page for the vast majority of sites.

As to whether your home page has a greater or smaller proportion of traffic than it did years ago, that depends mostly on the strength of your brand. Well branded, popular sites get lots of traffic direct to their home pages. Those that rely on generic non-brand search traffic for all or most of their visitors get rather less through the home page, but it will still be the busiest page and an important hub for most sites. It has never, ever, been a single point of entry for any site that doesn't have a pay-wall in front of the rest of its content.

over 3 years ago



Surely it's only normal that the NYT gets a majority of visits to its deep pages? News aggregators, Google news, Twitter, etc. all have links to deep pages. It's been that way for many years.

I see no link between NYT and lesser-known websites (apart from maybe publishers). For small businesses, for example, the home page is the opportunity to clearly explain who you are, position your brand and start navigation paths. Visits to deep pages are often intent and therefore keyword-led, and from what I've seen, a majority visit the home page afterwards.

Hardly the death of the home page......

over 3 years ago



The most frustrating thing I find about entering sites through side doors is the immediate requirement to sign-up or register on their page to gain access to an artice or other item sent to me in a link.

I can promise you I will not sign up and further will most likely will never return to the site again. I hate having to register to sites sinply because I know my email will eventualy wind up on an address list sent out to who knows.

If I'm clicking a link to view your site, I don't want to be bothered with registration requirements. If you want to chase people away from your site... please... make us do work and give up personal infomation!

over 3 years ago


Kimberly Crossland

This is a great article - and great insight! I especially like your tip about using your homepage to provide action steps. Visitors arrive on your website to perform a specific goal - learn more, buy, contact you, etc. Making this as easy and as intuitive for them to find gets them off the homepage faster and into the meaty stuff they're looking for. In turn, many businesses see conversion rates increase. Thanks for posting!

over 3 years ago

Matt Naughton

Matt Naughton, Head of Digital Marketing at Lights4fun

I simply cannot agree with this post. As a small retail business, our brand is one of our top keywords, with our home page being consistently in our top 3 landing pages. Our home page has the lowest bounce rate, highest page views and time on site than any other page.
Yes we get traffic to landing pages across the site, but there is certainly no death of our homepage.

over 3 years ago

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