Well-executed design and content principles can help brands and other organizations grow and retain massive homepage users, but it still requires the proper environment.
Is the homepage dead? It depends.
On the surface there is no direct answer or simple explanation. Peripherally the answer is a resounding yes, yet holistically, the answer is a resounding no.
For example, social and organic drive the lion’s share of overall website traffic. In fact, the top eight social networks drove 31 percent of overall traffic to sites according data from last year, and those numbers continue to increase. However, it’s uncommon for those referral sources to point users directly to homepages.
Therein lies the problem, and it’s why web designers and digital strategists subscribe to the idea that all landing pages should function as homepages. As the logic goes, the more avenues into a site the user has, the better chanced of keeping them actively engaged. It’s good design principle, but it also takes onus off of the site’s actual homepage.
However, there are a number of brands, publishers, non-profits, governmental organizations, and others showing incredible success at growing homepage traffic, thanks to clean modern web design and a steady stream of robust content. Data shows users like to engage with homepages, they just prefer when though primarily when those pages meet a specific need or expectation.
The Sun, a UK tabloid, claims its homepage traffic is up on average by 25 percent, as part of a wider strategy deployed earlier this year dedicated to “volume and velocity.” Volume is the key here, as it is for so many publishers. The Sun publishes 250 daily stories. Not only does that help drive organic and social traffic, but it also provides users with a reason to spend time scanning a homepage where new content is continually being added.
GQ magazine is also making the homepage a priority, and traffic is up by 20 percent in the past six months, according to the publication. It’s achieved these results by reducing site load times, optimizing its mobile experience, and publishing 36 percent more posts than it did a year ago.
There are many additional strategies and tactics brands deploy to improve the function of their homepages, including parallax scrolling, prominent and engaging video content, responsive design, high-quality custom photography, interactive storytelling, and custom design features.
Fox Sports recently rolled out a “semi-infinite scroll,” which means you can keep scrolling old stories, sometimes days or weeks old, right from the homepage. Fox Sports reports dramatic traffic gains in just six weeks.
The list of organizations showing homepage success goes on and on. comScore is one helpful source, ranking overall website traffic, and specifically unique visitors. These brands also showed some significant gains in a short period of time by implementing better content and design strategies.