Quantcast Should site logos link back to the homepage? (NO!) - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
03-08-2011, 08:18 PM
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While I always appreciate feedback on what we're doing here at The Digital FAQ, sometimes we get weird suggestions.

Today, I received this gem in my inbox:
Quote:
a user (auser@NotaRealEmail.com) is e-mailing you about
Message: You should be able to click on the top image, the "Digital FAQ" logo on any page to get back to the home page. It's sort of an unwritten standard and very handy for getting back to the homepage, or for right clicking on to save the link to the site. Thank you for your wonderful site.
Because it ended with this:
Quote:
Thank you for your wonderful site.
... I almost hesitate to write this somewhat not-wonderful response. On the other hand, some things simply get on my nerves, and there are times when things need to be said or written. This does deserve a response.

Unfortunately,
Quote:
auser@NotaRealEmail.com
is not a real person, so we can have no communication. In the world of communication, leaving a valid email address is ALSO part of
Quote:
an unwritten standard
<Sigh.>

Anyway, to address the topic of linking to site logos....

There really is not any communicative reasoning behind hyperlinking a logo.

For starters, most people actually DO NOT realize images are linked. To most web users, if it's not underlined text, it's not a link. (Don't argue with me -- I'm just a researcher, and that's what research shows. Personally, I'm not that dense.)

In fact, there is even a large segment of online users that don't realize something is a link unless it's BOTH underlined and blue. (I feel the need to make a Smurf joke, but nothing comes to mind right now.)

The only exclusion from this is (1) menus and (2) well-known iconography.

(1) The one caveat of a menu is that it needs text. Picture-based menus are simply too hard to comprehend to the average web browser (the person, not the software). In all honesty, the only reason graphic menus ever became popular was from the desire to use non-web fonts, because a menu ideally stands out from the rest of the page. You don't want your menu to blend with your paragraphs. As time went on, menus developed drop-downs thanks to scripting languages. Some people have a hard time with that, too -- drop-downs are a hard concept.

(2) Icon comprehension only works after years of saturation. For example, Facebook "Like" buttons, RSS icons, and Paypal payment buttons. If you put up a page with 4 buttons, with the above 3 (Like, RSS, Paypal) plus your own brand new custom button, people would seriously not know your new icon/button was a link. They wouldn't know what to do with it. To most people, it's just something pretty to look at. Even if it said "CLICK HERE" in big red letters, a measurable % of your audience would simply not understand that it's a link. They would be looking for underlined blue text around the graphic.

There are still people out there who don't know you can/should click on banner ads.

I can't make this stuff up. It's all true. And as somebody that is often responsible for redoing existing sites (give facelift, add functionality, tweak SEO elements), I have to pay attention to this demographic research. I've actually observed this behavior many times, be it from casual observation or from marketing analysis with test subjects. People are genuinely dumb when it comes to certain things!

Beyond all of this, since this is the site in question, I have to wonder why a menu with the word "Home" on it, directly under the site logo, does not suffice? The menu word "Home" is confusing, but an invisible logo link is not?

digitalfaq-home-link.jpg

Seriously?

To me, that's right up there with blue links and the 4th mystery icon.

Sure, I'd love to not waste screen real estate on a Home text link, but then a huge % of our audience would never be able to find our homepage.

Going back to this, one more time:
Quote:
It's sort of an unwritten standard
I can imagine how a conversation between myself and the emailer would go down:
  • Him/Her: text of the email
  • Me: Why?
  • Him/Her: Because!

That didn't work when I was 3 years old, and it doesn't work now, either.

Yes, other sites do it.
Yes, big companies do it.
But if you cornered the designers in a room, and forced them to explain why they link their logo to the homepage, they won't be able to come up with a reason, other than "it's what everybody else does". Or even worse, "because the president/CEO wanted it". From a communication stance, there's simply no good answer.

Beyond that, our logo is incorporated into a background image. It cuts down on load times, and is one less thing that has to be called up by a browser. To add in extra logos and code would decrease site speed. That's just not in our best interests.

I hate to respond in a way that some may consider "rude", but I think this deserved a reply.

Again, thank you for your honest feedback, and for trying to make The Digital FAQ a better place. It's the thought that counts.

Take care.



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  #2  
03-27-2011, 12:43 PM
eurovps eurovps is offline
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I don't really mind having the logo homepage linked, I feel like quite a few people are used to clicking on the logo for "home." But then again, to call it an unwritten rule is just silly imo.

But on a more serious note, what's your take on including an active link to the homepage, on the homepage. I stumbled on a list of homepage design guidelines, and one of them recommended against the practice. It kind of caught me off guard, as I've never really thought about that before.

Quote:
Don't include an active link to the homepage on the homepage. For example, if you include a "Home" link as part of your regular navigation bar, it shouldn't be clickable on the homepage. If you use components, create a special component that is used only on the homepage with an inactive Home link. If it's clickable, some users will inevitably click it and wonder if the page has indeed changed. Similarly, if you link your logo to the homepage from other pages on the site, the logo shouldn't be clickable from the homepage. All other pages on the site do need a link to the homepage.
Have you ever heard of this before?

http://www.useit.com/homepageusability/guidelines.html

It's rule 43 btw
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  #3  
03-27-2011, 02:47 PM
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Glad to have you posting questions and discussions here -- it's a perfect place for me to respond to lengthy and complex topics. As an added benefit, it will help to educate others on these topics. Glad to have you on board, looking forward to many excellent discussions.


On to the question...

To offset the rambling-like response this question evokes, I'll preface it by simply stating a decision to NOT include a link would create a number of if/and/but situations, as well as needlessly add to design and coding workloads.

(I also want to tear into that useit.com site, and that book, but one thing at a time. )

In 2011 (and for the past few years, for that matter), navigation is generally stored in includes, so that every page will have the same navigation. That's part of the brilliance of the modern CMS -- you can change something, and it changes site-wide. Most nav is held in the header, but it varies from site to site. For example, the nav on this site is in its own PHP file, separate from the rest of the header. To change the nav for only the homepage would require extra coding, possibly even separate designs, depending on how far you want to address removal of the home link. For most people, that's a poor use of time. Or expense, if you're paying somebody else to make your site.

Now imagine if the Home link was there, and could not be clicked. Some people would want to click it. Those folks may not understand they're already on the homepage, even going so far as inquiring why they can't go to the Home link on "your website". Am I being silly here? Yes. But how is that any different from a clickable Home link that simply dumps them at the same page they're already on? (Answer: It's not.)

I have to mentally travel back a few years here, when I did work for colleges and universities off and on, from 1997-2008. The primary activity was redoing sites to better communicate with their audiences -- a.k.a. web development from a non-IT perspective. Numerous times I had to create, lead and engage in audience studies, to "prove" my assessments and methodology to the gray-haired and technologically out-of-touch executive leadership.

Have you ever heard this quote? -- "A camel is a horse designed by committee." Well, that's what happened to my brilliant designs and organization communication overhauls a couple of times. At those audience studies, which was based on a random sample, stupid questions inevitably came up. For example, one person thought all links should say "click here." One person. One. And one of the VP's took this concern to heart, insisting it was something I needed to "look into" (translation: do it all over the site).

My response was consider the audience. At what point do you cater to stupid people? You're a higher-end technology service, and that was an institution of higher learning. If the person is too dumb to figure out what is and isn't a link, or what is and isn't the homepage, do you even want that person as a customer? Unless you're selling a product or service around a special niche that specifically deals with uneducated or undereducated individuals, then no! And you certainly don't want to design a site for that audience. If nothing else, you'll likely just aggravate or even insult your real primary demographic.

That, of course, pissed off the executives, but at some point communication experts have to draw the line, and balk at idiotic requests by non-experts. (I'm suddenly reminded of the 113 rules, but I'll get to that in a moment...) I won't involve myself in any project that demands I do low-quality work, otherwise it may be the last project I ever do -- i.e., nobody else would want to hire me, having seen the slop that was made for somebody else.

(On a related aside, many of the things I was pushing for back in the late 1990s have become "standards" in the modern era of web design. So I wasn't the only person who thought certain a grand idea. I feel as though I was an Internet pioneer, having come up with many of these same theories of web communication, though I wasn't the one who propagated them.)

Is there a way to better show the current page? Are there alternatives? Sort of. WordPress, for example, has an easy way to change the presentation of navigation button/text, based on the active page. I used this on the DigitalFAQ Web Marketing Demo site. That was honestly done more for flair than for any communicative goal or purpose. Some people also choose to leverage breadcrumbs, to show relation of the current page to others on the site. That, however, can confuse audiences, too.

All said, I think rule 43 is very petty, possibly even far outdated.

For example, consider sites like CNN or BBC -- news sites with quickly changing content. Or any number of blogs or sites where the homepage has any degree of readable content. If I start reading, it could be 5-10 minutes before I'm done browsing the page. I may even go to the bathroom, grab a snack, etc. When a little time has passed, I can simply click the Home link to reload the page. True, I could click the refresh/reload in the browser, but that's not the point. The point is that a Home link is not bad. It can have a very viable use.


As far as useit.com goes...

I find it rather amusing that a site that looks like it was designed in 1995 is giving out design advice. Not to mention 113 rules seems a bit excessive. That's about 63 too many. (Hire an editor.) There are some valid points, yes, but many things are petty and ridiculous.

Beyond that, some of their information is simply false. For example, consider rule 28:
Quote:
Avoid using spaces and punctuation inappropriately, for emphasis. For example, L O B S T E R S or L.O.B.S.T.E.R.S. might look interesting to you but would foil a user who was searching for "lobsters." Unusual punctuation also reduces scannability and would be annoying to visually impaired users whose audio browsers spell out the word instead of reading it as a word.
I tested this theory with Google. And it failed the test. Google doesn't care if you spell it as "lobster" of L.O.B.S.T.E.R. -- the results are the same. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. can rest easy knowing that he won't be forgotten, even when searchers have forgotten the periods.

Statements like this are even mythical, to an extent:
Quote:
Your homepage is often your first — and possibly your last — chance to attract and retain each customer, rather like the front page of a newspaper
This is false in the era of search-heavy users. Your entry page could be whatever page people or algorithms have decided is the most important one on your site. Forget "homepage" and think "landing page". And yes, you can design a home page (root index) as the landing page, with good SEO and proper marketing.

Granted, the book (which is the basis for this list) did come out 10 years ago, in 2001. But even then I'm not sure I'd agree with much of it. The authors seem very inexperienced with media, and I almost wonder if they're trying to foist unrelated user interaction methodology onto the web. And that just doesn't really work. Their advice is all over the map, from good to myth to silly.

If I had $30 to blow, I'd probably grab the book as something to red-line for my own amusement. As one Amazon reviewer noted, it's largely a book of author preferences with nothing to back up the claims -- many of which appear to be odd. For example, insisting that Kitchen being grouped with Lawn & Garden. As the reviewer amusingly pointed out, he doesn't grow roses in his oven.


Before I go...

Yes, I can be a bit harsh with criticism. The news/media industry has always been that way, and it's gotten worse with the number of interlopers we've seen in the past decade. These individuals spread too much myth and misinformation. Aggravation at their stupidity tends to make us harsher.

The main author's bio is on that same site, and he's an IT person. And I don't care if the guy is more well-known, better paid, won awards, etc -- from what I can see in his 113 rules, he doesn't know tiddly winks about communication. Websites may be on the computer, but you need media professionals to create and run them -- not IT folks. The issue is that communication requires more art in the approach to a situation, it's not something that can be governed by a set of rigid rules like programming or engineering. And that what this author has given us -- 113 rigid rules.

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  #4  
03-27-2011, 03:04 PM
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In looking at more recent writings from Jakob Nielsen, he seems to be overly concerned with stupid users. For example, from a 2010 article:

Quote:
Nielsen says that some of the iPad's problems are endemic to the touch tablet format. "With the iPad, it's very easy to touch in the wrong place, so people can click the wrong thing, but they can't tell what happened," he says. There are also problems with gestures such as swiping the screen because they're "inherently vague", and "lack discoverability": there's no way to tell what a gesture will do at any particular point.
As somebody who recently took advantage of the $349 Apple refurb clearance, I can say without a doubt that his statements are ridiculous. The swipe is vague? Really? Are you kidding me? I've seen preschool children master iPads, and these kids were not uber-talented in any way. Apple products are already overly dumbed down as it is. (And I can say this, as an owner and long-time user of their gear, as far back as the 1980s.)

As two comments from that same article put it:
Quote:
He's the best usability expert we love to ignore
Quote:
I am so glad Jakob Nielsen didn't design the iPad
But as appears to be his style, it's a mix of intelligent and idiotic. For example, he goes on to discuss the inherent flaw of Jobs refusing to support Flash. And most would agree that was a petty and boneheaded move by Apple, which will only fuel the offerings by competing products as we move into 2011-2012.

So unless you're able to discern his brilliance from his bullcrap, I'd suggest he be ignored entirely.

Hope that helps.

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  #5  
03-29-2011, 06:41 AM
eurovps eurovps is offline
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Quote:
In 2011 (and for the past few years, for that matter), navigation is generally stored in includes
Tell that to www.agriya.com. We experimented with them last year for a side project and to our amazement they had no idea of this concept. Adding a page to your site meant adding the link 30 times on each of your pages. Epic fail.

From a purely profit driven perspective, I think you underestimate the significance of catering to your stupid (or) "suggestible" (to be more PC) market segment. Catering exclusively to your *intelligent* user base, is skimming. Sure, that works brilliantly sometimes. But generally, in E-Commerce, from my experience, I'd recommend to factor in the stupid coefficient, at least just a bit. It's a big market to miss out on.
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04-06-2011, 02:38 AM
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I had a great follow-up for this -- before the weather came blundering through, and I was forced to turn off local computers, accidentally wiping out a reply that I'd been typing for a couple of days as thoughts came to me slowly. So here I go again, trying to remember bits and pieces from my now-gone masterpiece...

Quote:
From a purely profit driven perspective, I think you underestimate the significance of catering to your stupid (or) "suggestible" (to be more PC) market segment. Catering exclusively to your *intelligent* user base, is skimming. Sure, that works brilliantly sometimes. But generally, in E-Commerce, from my experience, I'd recommend to factor in the stupid coefficient, at least just a bit. It's a big market to miss out on.
Part of it really depends on how you would define "stupid" -- even in a politically-corrected (PC) environment. At some point, even for the PC folks, there is some sort of "breaking point". I'm talking about a niche group that is far beyond "suggestible" and what we'd call "running on fumes" in the IQ/sense department.

Remember that this site was originally built with education in mind, as we realize media topics (video, photo, web/print) are difficult subjects, even when you have some experience at it. --- Not that we're omnipotent experts, but simply able to share a lot more "than the average bear" on these topics. (I could come up with a whole list of things I don't know, and it would easily outsize the list of things I DO KNOW!)

Here's my makeshift list: --- not as eloquent as the original, but not too bad for an on-the-fly response

For example, you could separate non-experts into these categories, or levels of comprehension:
  • 1. Experienced, but room to learn more.
  • 2. Inexperienced, but with enough similar knowledge to transition well.
  • 3. Inexperienced, and more or less clueless (i.e., "newbies") -- but willing to learn.
Those top three types of clients are often excellent to work with because: (1) their expectations tend to be reasonable, (2) they're grateful for what you do for them, and (3) generally willing to put forth reasonable budgets.

On the flip side, these same people often fall prey to myth and misinformation, so your initial hurdle tends to be deprogramming them. So you'll have to dedicate some portion of your business (be it via web documentation or other solutions) to re-education.

... and that's about where I cut off, willing to "divorce the customer" beyond this point.

Now if you're really, really patient and dedicated, and willing be a doormat for a customer, this next group is not really "stupid" as much as unwilling and somewhat problematic:
  • 4. Inexperienced, and completely clueless, slightly willing to learn -- yet somewhat belligerent and/or impatient. This is the "stress maker" of your business.
And the we start to delve into stupid-land:
  • 5. Inexperienced, doesn't care, just "wants it done" -- often done his or her "way" (even if it's moronic or outright impossible).
I don't care what sort of income these people provide, you'll end up wasting tons of time on them, often missing out on better clients. Or ruining good relationships with good existing clients, because they can't get time with you -- you're too tied up with John Q. Bonehead.

Generally, this group is also super-duper cheap, and unless you're willing to drop your prices to unreasonable levels, you really won't get (or keep) these folks long-term anyway. They time vampires.

This is the very definition of the the "problem customer". Or "client from hell", as some might say. They incur not only stress, but can cause you much anger.

And honestly, the experts (or "experts", in some cases) can be over-demanding, too. I've always been hyper-aware of that, and I try to not ever be "that guy" when I'm a customer of a service. So you have to watch out for them, too. However, these folks are prone to good budgets, so businesses tend to "suck it up" in order to please these folks. And when you do -- you may (about 10-25% of the time, from my experience) end up with great references.

This demographic philosophy has served us well since the 1970s.


Now then....

To some degree, I would say that a person who cannot operate the iPad is impatient, and unwilling to read instructions.

The "never have a Home link" (because it would supposedly confuse somebody) doesn't fit smoothly into any of the above categories, but I would err to "impatience" -- a lack of taking the time to observe the URL, page content, etc. Honestly, I just don't think anybody would get confused by a Home link, be it 2001 or 2011. I think that's just some unfounded ridiculous idea from a list full of semi-coherent advice. I would suggest the list writer is the problem person here, not the imaginary audience the rule was written for.



NOTE: These categories DO NOT INCLUDE individuals who have learning disabilities. At no time would I ever state or even hint at an idea that a disability is something to be mocked -- that's rather revolting. That special needs crowd is completely unaddressed in the above information, and should be met with the utmost understanding and patience by any decent human being. This was something I feel the need to mention, for any passerby readers that may come up this page, and somehow get the wrong idea (which I've seen happen on other sites -- especially as it relates to iPad use).

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