Home Button – to have or not to have?

21 Aug

The war over the home button is over. At least in the Indian non-profit sector it is.

It started with a simple question: On your website, would you provide a separate Home button, or would you link the logo to the Homepage?

The user experience community is pretty much divided on this. The purists maintain that the convention is to link the logo to the Homepage. After all, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook do this.

But there’s an equally strong counter view that’s asking, “True, but does your audience know about the convention?”

There’s no one right answer. While I’ve personally waved the flag of the logo link propagandists for a long time, I’m veering around to the middle path.

We work in the non-profit sector, and in India. Our audience uses the Internet more and more every day, but the majority is still not Internet-savvy. The charities with whom we work want to reach institutional donors, companies, individual donors and volunteers through their websites. While a larger percentage of this audience might be Internet-savvy, we just can’t afford to assume that they are.

To cut to the chase, for most non-profits (especially in India), I would still provide a Home button. But I’d also go one step further and link the logo to the homepage as well. For surely you don’t want that one guy clicking away on the logo and finding it goes nowhere! Providing this double link builds in redundancy (which in web design is a good thing unlike in the jobs market) and provides a solution for both the savvy and the not-yet-so-savvy. Greenpeace and Oxfam do this. Actionaid follows the logo-link option. Childline provides the logo link, but also a Breadcrumb trail (You are here: Childline/ Play) that allows people to trace their way back home any time.

So is providing a double link your go-to solution? As always, it’s complicated. The rules can be broken, provided you know when and how to break them.

A key factor that influences decisions on home page buttonology is what role your home page plays. There are some sites where the homepage provides a summary of the types of information that you can find on the rest of the site. If the site has a clever architecture that allows people to access all content from all pages, then it would be fine to drop the extra Home button.

Or take the case of a site that has a high level of transactions, such as Kiva.org. The site normally does not have a separate Home button, but once you get into the loop of making a loan on Kiva, if you want to revisit your options, there’s a clear text link that says, “Go to Kiva.org’s home page.” (The logo is also linked to the home page).

That’s all very well, you might ask, but what should I do? As a wise man once said, if you steal from one, it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many, it’s research.

So we did a quick search on who does what on their websites. Here’s what we found.

Image

The interesting bits here are the Care and World Vision examples – they follow the logo-link convention for their international sites, but provide both a button and the logo-link for the Indian sites.

And that pretty much sums it up for non-profits in India. Do both. Because you don’t want not to.

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