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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Should I have a "Home" button? User testing article

    Lots of people ask, now and then, whether they should have a "Home" button on their main menus. They ask whether it's redundant (and therefore maybe confusing) when the user is actually already ON the home page, or if it's redundant if the logo is clickable to home (which is very very common on the web, and therefore can be considered a web design "standard" (users have expectations that logos are clickable and go home because so many sites do just that).
    Item number 43 has caught many people's eyes for example.

    Epic Bagel did a usability study for a client who removed the Home button from the regular navigation, leaving the clickable logo as the only way back to the home page.

    You (probably) still need a Home link (this is a blog post about the result, not a usability study itself).

    Interesting stuff! Especially as I'm finishing up two site redesigns: one has a Home button, and one does not.

  2. #2
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    It's not safe to assume that users will know to click on the logo to return home.
    However, the home link is not especially important because what reason do you have to go to the home page? So it can go on top secondary links or footer links, especially if the room in the main navigation is tight.

    E

  3. #3
    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    You can't rely on everyone knowing that clicking on the logo will be a link to the home page (not least because not all sites do that), so I would always include 'home' in the main navigation.

    I generally keep the same navigation on every page, for the sake of consistency. What I do usually do is to highlight the current page and put a normal cursor on :hover so that it doesn't look like a link.

    (Although I'm not sure how much usability advice I can take from 'UX consultants' who use such pale text on a white background that even with perfect vision I'm struggling to read it...)

  4. #4
    It's all Geek to me silver trophybronze trophy
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    I prefer to keep the Home link active on the Home page. (Indeed, the same issue applies to all pages.) There will be times when someone is not sure if they are on the home page (although they should be sure, as the home link should be styled as current). If people aren't sure they're on the Home page and click an inactive Home link, is that going to make them any more sure? I doubt it. At least if they see the page refresh, they will be more convinced. I don't see the point of having a Home item in the menu if it's not a link.

    As others have said, relying on people knowing to click the logo is a massive assumption that is sure to fail in a lot of cases.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Addict EarlyOut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralph.m View Post
    As others have said, relying on people knowing to click the logo is a massive assumption that is sure to fail in a lot of cases.
    Indeed. Remember that a substantial percentage of your site visitors are the people who, if they want to go to the CNN website, pull up Google and enter cnn.com as the search string.

    Never assume they know anything.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    (Although I'm not sure how much usability advice I can take from 'UX consultants' who use such pale text on a white background that even with perfect vision I'm struggling to read it...)
    I know, that bugged me to no end, but I assumed users with JS or something got better contrast... nope. I've sent them feedback.

    My page with the Home button has a redundant home page, but that's ok. The site without the Home button also has a redundant home page, and that's also ok, but I don't know how many people actually want to go there.

    (but but but!!! I'm going to actually do some usability testing this coming week!! Going to get a USB mike and download CamStudio and it's so exciting!!! woo!)

  7. #7
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    Hey guys,

    First up, thanks for taking the time to link through to the article - glad you found it useful.

    About the font colour, there is some method behind our madness!

    We've been experimenting with different contrast levels of the main body copy. The intention was to see if the article headers become easy to identify and scan (most people fixate on headings before continuing to read the actual copy). Essentially, we wanted the main points in the articles to be quickly conveyed to readers.

    The contrast levels you experienced certainly became unreadable on certain devices (designers, ourselves included, need to remember not everyone has a Mac). So, the colour contrast of the main body copy has now been increased to meet AA WCAG.

    Sorry if this annoyed you at all or undermined our credibility - we put a lot of effort into the content and crafting the UI details of our apps and client projects - I hope in some way that will help to build a better picture of us and what we do.

    Happy to take any questions about the particular project in the article.

    If you want any tips on the usability testing coming up as well, feel free to ask (the other week I sat through 20 usability testing sessions with Mums and Mums to be which was quite a learning curve!)

  8. #8
    It's all Geek to me silver trophybronze trophy
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    Hi epicbagel. Thanks for stopping in. It's nice to have you around.

    Quote Originally Posted by epicbagel
    the other week I sat through 20 usability testing sessions with Mums and Mums to be which was quite a learning curve!
    Hah, I spend a fair bit of time testing usability with one mum (my own) and that's enough work in itself.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    The intention was to see if the article headers become easy to identify and scan (most people fixate on headings before continuing to read the actual copy). Essentially, we wanted the main points in the articles to be quickly conveyed to readers.
    On one of my sites, I used a 1em "mgopen modata","dejavu sans",verdana,sans-serif; bodytext

    and the headers are "hoefler text","urw bookman l",georgia,serif; (and from 1.2em up to 1.8em for the h1)

    the blockiness of the serifs really seemed to bring the headers out.

    On another site, body text was #333 (on #fff background) while headers were #000. This didn't stand out to me nearly as much as the huge difference in font families did on the other page. (I'll see how fast my testers find certain keywords doing tasks since the headers have most of those task-keywords)

    It would seem your headers still stand out pretty well, though the equal spacing both above and below headers makes them kinda float in space. I've got a site that does that in some places and I've been thinking of bringing them closer to their text just so they "group" better.

    Happy to take any questions about the particular project in the article.
    You asked the testers to go to the home page, but was there any reason to naturally? Many home pages are absolutely useless (I'll point to twitter's as a good example. What exactly is the point of that page? Only a portal to the main URL, nothing more), but when there's something that's only available from a home page (like a limited offer, or a basic description of the service) then people might actively look for it or go back to it.

    If you want any tips on the usability testing coming up as well, feel free to ask (the other week I sat through 20 usability testing sessions with Mums and Mums to be which was quite a learning curve!)
    Thanks, this will be my first time (usability-test virgin!) and it's so darn hard to find people... more likely, I'll have questions after I make all my mistakes this first time. : )

    Ordered the mike.

  10. #10
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    Here's a few things I normally do...

    Just take your time. Explain they are not being tested. Tell them you want to hear positive and negative feedback ("You won't hurt my feelings"). Tell them there are no right or wrong questions - if it doesn't make sense it's the design not them. With the video - tell them it's only so you can review the session later ("You won't end up on YouTube!"). Try to leave it as long as possible before you interrupt. Redirect questions (Them: "Is this wrong?" You: "Is it wrong for you?")

    Just a few... you've inspired me to write a post - perhaps a mini howto - for people starting our with testing

    But really, just relax. The best thing you get out of testing isn't the design specific insight. Essentially, it's the insight into the intricacies of how people interact with technology. That you aren't designing for yourself and you cannot design for everybody.

    Enjoy it

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Tell them you want to hear positive and negative feedback ("You won't hurt my feelings")
    I'm actually planning on telling them I didn't design the site at all ("just the colours" I'll say... nobody knows what HTML and CSS is anyway). If none of the other people are there then I expect people will worry less about bringing stuff up, since it won't be *my* feelings they're hurting, nor would *I* be the one to have to look at all their nitpicks : )

    With the video - tell them it's only so you can review the session later ("You won't end up on YouTube!")
    I plan on screen capture and audio, and getting permission for both, and yes plan on making that clear twice (when they sign ok, and when they first sit down).
    They're going to be more worried about "this won't actually sign me up for your insurance will it?" cause I've already got 3 people asking if that's what would happen, lawlz. Because the back-end has to react and calculate and act real.

    Essentially, it's the insight into the intricacies of how people interact with technology.
    I always squirm when I see people going through forms with a mouse. Ha ha, they are in the majority I think. In any case, there's a bunch of stuff I'm assuming is already a problem (because it's stuff that doesn't make sense to me and I do know the site), but it'll be interesting to see if what I think are problems actually trip people up, and esp want to see where they get super confuzled. This is a site with mostly one goal but two semi-intricate forms, and it's for insurance, so I fret anyway : )

    I've got Rocket Surgery Made Easy, and I've been actively reading up on usability and how/not testing (since about a year I think)... not the same as actually doing one, but my company does not value this kind of thing. I kept saying "it would be a good idea..." and they would be like "yeah it would" but nothing further...

    So even tho I'm getting minimum wage and just the front-ender and nobody cares, I figure, whatever, I'll just buy the crap myself and buy lunch cards for the testers myself and just do it anyway. It would feel better if I had some support, but whatever.

  12. #12
    Web development Company chrisranjana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    . They ask whether it's redundant (and therefore maybe confusing) when the user is actually already ON the home page,.
    Of course it is, unless the HOME button or link somehow is part of the design of the page.
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  13. #13
    SitePoint Member ps3gamereviews's Avatar
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    I am going to keep mine clickable just because i think having it like that and changing it might mess with people

  14. #14
    Barefoot on the Moon! silver trophy Force Flow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EarlyOut View Post
    Indeed. Remember that a substantial percentage of your site visitors are the people who, if they want to go to the CNN website, pull up Google and enter cnn.com as the search string.

    Never assume they know anything.
    You would be very surprised at the high percentage of users I see doing just that. Instead of using the address bar and typing in the address, they either have google.com set as their homepage and type the address in the search box, or type in the address in the browser's search box.

    It boggles my mind as to why they do that. And continue to do that even after I explain what the address bar is and how to use it.


    As for a home button/link, I always include one. Don't assume that folks land at your home page. I've landed at a small handful websites through articles or blog posts via search engines, and after reading the article, wanted to see the home page for the most current content. Low and behold--no home link and no link from the logo.

    So, never assume the "home" page is the point of entry.
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  15. #15
    SitePoint Member neobuxhack's Avatar
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    I dont think very many people click the "home" button, however I think it's good to have, especially if you are dealing with "internet-newbies". I mean persoanally I'd just edit the current url to the main page if I want to go back, however I think people who dont use the internet that much might be clicking the home button sometimes.

    Anyways, I'd say that you shouldnt change the "home" text to an icon. It's not common sence that it should lead to the home directory if its not named "home"

    </snip>
    Last edited by Force Flow; May 1, 2011 at 11:05. Reason: Sorry, we don't allow self-promotion links in posts

  16. #16
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    The problems I've always had with the home button is...

    a) It takes up valuable above the fold real-estate.

    b) much of the info on our homepages is redundant...essentially it tells the visitor "Hi, this is who we are, here are some current specials" and I've debated how useful that is to a visitor outside of a first impression.

    However, the fact the second article mentioned many people resort to typing in the address into Google is interesting...I'm always astounded how many people are searching for our websites (i.e. domain.com) and maybe this is a partial cause for it.
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  17. #17
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    b) much of the info on our homepages is redundant...essentially it tells the visitor "Hi, this is who we are, here are some current specials" and I've debated how useful that is to a visitor outside of a first impression.
    This describes the majority of our home pages: they are nothing more than a default portal if someone were to come to the main url, with all options sitting before them.

    However, the fact the second article mentioned many people resort to typing in the address into Google is interesting...I'm always astounded how many people are searching for our websites (i.e. domain.com) and maybe this is a partial cause for it.
    Either people think there's something valuable on your main page... or there IS something valuable on your main page... or people like to just orient themselves. The last one, I've done. I just don't use google to do it, but manually remove everything from the URL but the domain name.

  18. #18
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    I'd definitely keep the Home button if space allows. Making a logo that links to a Home page should be a default. Still, I wish that there's a universal standard for shot cut keys to home.... For example, if we can use "Ctrl-Home" would take to home page.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by sg707 View Post
    Making a logo that links to a Home page should be a default.
    I like to make these logos without the link, unclickable. Kind of annoying because most users are used to it.

  20. #20
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    I would also leave the home button. This is because stupid people have money. You have to think at all the possible clients.
    Also home button is a back up ( another way to go to the main page ).
    I think the problem sound like this: if the hi way is better then other roads ... why do people use them ( other roads )?

  21. #21
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy cydewaze's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie D View Post
    You can't rely on everyone knowing that clicking on the logo will be a link to the home page (not least because not all sites do that), so I would always include 'home' in the main navigation.
    I had a sort of argument with my wife about this when designing her home page. In her view, "Only web design experts know that the logo goes to the home page".

    Sometimes you have to design for the least common denominator.
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  22. #22
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    Thumbs up

    We are graphic designers and web designers in Peterborough, and build a lot of website for a variety of clients. We always include a 'Home' button on the main navigation, as we believe that from a usability point of view this is a useful feature that most users will appreciate when exploring the website. Novice users aren't always going to know that they need to click on a logo or something else to go back to the Home Page, and simply put, most users do not want to waste time searching round for a way to get back to the Home Page. Exploring a website should always be made as simple as possible.
    Last edited by ralph.m; May 3, 2011 at 08:08. Reason: removed unnecessary link.

  23. #23
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    I'm a firm believer that you should make the logo a link home, AND include a link home, even on the home page. Many websites I visit I'll often hit 'home' even when on the home page, just to get a faster refresh (since refresh can often reload EVERYTHING ignoring the cache). Forums are a great example of this. It also as already mentioned addresses how many people can end up on your site NOT via the home page (unless you did something STUPID like framesets or AJAX for framesets) so on sub-pages that link should ALWAYS be there.

    I did see the most common argument against it in there, that it can confuse people when they are already on the home page... that can IMMEDIATELY be dismissed if you take the time to *SHOCK* style the current page link in the menu. (or at least it's subsection). If home is lit up when you're home, and it's not lit up when you aren't, where's the confusion?

  24. #24
    It's all Geek to me silver trophybronze trophy
    ralph.m's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deathshadow60 View Post
    If home is lit up when you're home, and it's not lit up when you aren't, where's the confusion?
    Precisely. Although it's amazing what can confuse some people (though I guess I shouldn't talk, being the dumb@ss that I am. Everything confuses me. )

  25. #25
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    when you on homepage,there is no need to have that button but when you are not on homepage,the button should appear.

    this is my opinion.


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