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I have a site where I want to have two different home pages: a general description page for anonymous users, and a dashboard page for logged-in users.

I am debating between two implementations:

  • Both pages live at /
  • The page for anonymous users is located at / and the dashboard is at /dashboard, with automatic redirection between them based on whether a given user is logged in (e.g., if you're logged in and navigate to /, you are redirected to /dashboard.

Is it cleaner to have both pages use the same URL or separate URLs?

Also, I imagine that choices for that question will affect the following:

  • Caching: the anonymous page would be completely cached, while the logged-in page would not be cached at all (except for static resources). This could lead to issues with server caching, request speed, and UX (such as if one version of the page is cached in a user's browser when the other version should be displayed, instead).
  • SEO: how would search engines react to such canonical URLs?
  • Load time (due to redirects or to the server having to always reevaluate which page to display)
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Do you want Google to index /dashboard? –  toomanyairmiles May 30 '12 at 7:20

1 Answer 1

If users have to login to view the dashboard page, you should have no problem with SEO since it's a private area on your site given you keep the dashboard at / Google and others would always cache and see the public version such as facebook.com's public home page vs your dashboard once logged in.

A SaaS site I had developed uses www.example.com as the public site. And each user is given their own subdomain. They also must login at their subdomain URL. Any attempt to login to another users subdomain display a generic error on the page.

The home page has a small function to check for a session and if a visitor is on the home page at www.example.com rather than seeing a login link it says My Account which links to their dashboard.

As for caching of the dashboard to your members you can always add time stamps or versions to your CSS, and JS files in your header such as .css?05302012 so that users are always downloading the most recent version.

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