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Savvy folks like yourselves are probably comfortable knowing they can click the logo and usually end up back on the home page of a site. However, not everyone knows this. What are some reasons for and against an explicit "home" link?

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Ugh, made an intranet page at work, nobody knows they can click it (regardless that they almost unanimously asked for the thing) –  Incognito Aug 27 '10 at 13:48
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8 Answers 8

It depends on how it looks on your website. Unless your navigation is already crowded, I don't see any harm in having a home link.

Even if you do have a home link, I would still have the logo link to the home page as well.

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Yes, definitely have the link on the logo as "savvy folks" will expect it to be there. –  ChrisF Jul 27 '10 at 21:06
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I don't even think it's limited to 'savvy folks'. It's such a common behavior on websites that I think a lot of average joes would expect it to be there as well. –  GSto Jul 28 '10 at 14:17
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I actually get annoyed when that behavior is not present. –  Tim Post Jul 28 '10 at 18:54
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I manage a website for a manufacturing and engineering firm. We have both a text Home link and the company logo is a link to the home page. Using Crazy Egg stats I can tell you we get more clicks on the text link to home than the Logo link to home.

In general, it depends on your user base. Are they computer savvy? Will they figure it out on their own? If they aren't then I would include a home link. The main reasons to remove the home link is to decrease clutter and reduce links on your page. I don't think many sites have an overwhelming reason to remove it. It just seems like good form to do it when you can.

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+1 for using stats –  Larsenal Jul 28 '10 at 20:27
    
I like the idea of tracking which home button they click. I think I'm going to start implementing that sort of tracking... –  Mark Henderson Jul 30 '10 at 5:09
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You could take a leaf out of Facebook's... erm, book... and does and make it so that when you hover over the logo a "home" icon comes up (assuming they still do that; I barely use Facebook anymore). It makes it clear that clicking the logo returns to the home page.

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they don't have the home icon anymore, but now it's a tooltip that says 'home' when you hover the logo. –  GSto Jul 28 '10 at 14:28
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Another good place to use an explicit home link in user navigation is the first entry in a breadcrumb trail. Since this is often near the top of the page, the home link usually ends up just below the main logo, so it serves both as a text link to the home page and the root of the breadcrumb trail.

If your site layout is at all hierarchical, a breadcrumb trail really helps the user stay oriented. They can easily see where they are, and return to any of the higher levels.

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+1 , Breadcrumbs are always a good idea. –  Tim Post Jul 28 '10 at 18:55
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Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act more-or-less requires an explicit "Home" link. If you're doing U.S. Government work or otherwise want to make your site "more accessible" you should include one.

On the other side of that coin, I've been to plenty of sites where the logo wasn't a link to anywhere. "Logo = home link" is nowhere near universal.

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I don't know how many times (many) I've been asked "How do I get back to the home page?" when I've skipped the home link in the main navigation.

I've started doing 1 of 2 things recently:

  1. Move the home link to the last or second last item on the main menu. I've wondered if this is a good idea because personally I often look for "Contact Us" in that position, but it seems to help users. But sometimes I will put it second last so at least it's there, but I could see this getting lost in the middle then.

  2. Add a home image (small house shaped icon) somewhere in the upper portion of the page, usually on the right. The removes the need for an extra menu item.

I haven't had any complaints after doing either of these (that they can't get back to the home page).

I also think the general reason why people want to go back to the home page is because they get lost on a website, so I think reducing the cause is a better solution that encouraging people to "start over" to figure things out. This is unless your home page is like Facebook or SO where it contains the most recent information.

I do also like DisgruntledGoat's idea of doing something similar to Facebook's logo/home link with a roll over to show that it's the home page link.

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If it helps we wrote up a blog post around some recent findings from some usability testing on a design that didn't have a distinct 'home' link in the navigation.

http://www.epicbagel.com/blog/view/you-probably-still-need-a-home-link.html

The takeaway from it was that you need to include a home link within the header of the page. Don't assume your audience will find the homepage through clicking on the logo.

The home link could be in the top right, as long as it is still easily discoverable for people who rely on it.

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Agree with the logo being a link (to the Brand resource), but you can look at it another way, through RESTful design.

What does the home page resource convey? is it a

  • content tapas?
  • listing of a certain resource type?
  • subset of a certain resource?

The word "Home" on a page does nothing for SEO or explaining "what" can be expected at that page.

Whilst some users may be trying to get to the beginning of the website, with a RESTful design they would not. If a site is RESTful, it is stateless; not a funnel design through the site which would require a "Home" or "Start again" link. They would more likely be looking for a link for something, not some state.

If your on site linking strategy were cultivated (and monitored from the perspective of how visitors "use" the links presented) they may never have to think twice about how to get where they want (for instance planning a route from Home to Products, instead of straight to Products).

In short the concept of a link to "Home", is not RESTful and unlikely to aid SEO. A site featuring a link called "Home" probably has not:

  • reviewed the way visitors use links
  • designed the structure of the site around resources
  • made the website in a stateless manner

However a link back to the root page (whatever resource that is) would be a requirement for hypermedia and under almost all circumstances it'll have a name other than "Home".

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