E.T. Phone Home


Whether we're kicking off a new website, working on a rebrand, or getting ready to launch; every day at Carbon8 involves working on websites. So, needless to say we hear the same questions often and today I'd like to discuss one everyone wonders at one point or another:
Do I need a "home" link in my global navigation or does everyone know by now that you can click on the logo to go home?

I remember researching this a few years ago and we were shocked as to how many users didn't know the logo was clickable as well as the number of websites that didn't have a linked-logo. So recently, we've done a lot of research to see how times have changed in the last few years. In our findings, the bulk of the actual user testing is underwhelming and outdated.

With no hard-and-fast answer, we sifted through all the articles and UX forums we could find and whittled it down to the following:

  • Most users expect your link home to be in the upper left. Since this is typically where your logo is, go ahead and link it for your savvy users.
  • User experience professionals don't universally trust that their users know that the logo is linked and suggest an alternative for less savvy users.
  • Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g) recommends no matter what, don't include an active link to your home page, on your home page. Users will inevitably click it and will become confused as to why the page hasn't changed.

Since there isn't any solid research either-way, Carbon8 recommends you take a look at your target audience. Have a tech savvy audience? Too many items in your global navigation already? You'll probably be okay with a linked-logo only. If you're not sure how savvy your audience is or don't have a cluttered global navigation, why not add it in. If you do have a "Home" link in your global navigation, we recommend while the user is on the home page, that it is visibly marked in an "active" state so users are clear that they are on the home page. This will also keep you in compliance with the NN/g recommendation to not have an active home link on your home page since it will already be "selected."

Remember, it's increasingly common that users are NOT landing on your home page when they reach your website. Whether they're coming from a search engine, social media or a link from a targeted campaign - users are often hitting your site for the first time on an internal page and then wondering home.

So, whether you choose to have a linked-logo or a home link in your global navigation is up to you. Think about your target audience and make sure there is a clear way for users to get to your home page.

Shay Ruggles
written by SHAY RUGGLES

Shay Ruggles is the Director of UX at Carbon8 who ensures we are creating compelling experiences that balance user intent, clients’ business needs and site performance. A former Account Manager, Video Producer and Carbon8’s first employee, Shay leveraged her years of experience, education and research to transition to the creative team of Carbon8 in 2012.

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