Why is the home page the most neglected on the site?

Imagine if you went to the BBC News home page and you weren’t met with the latest headlines. Imagine if you went to the Microsoft or Apple home pages and you weren’t met with the latest products or announcements. It’s unthinkable. These pages are changed constantly to reflect what the majority of visitors are likely to be interested in. Of course they are: on many sites, the home page often gets viewed as often as all the other pages put together. Who’d miss the opportunity to put the latest information there?

The majority of businesses, that’s who.

Are you willing to spend a lot of time and money promoting your latest product launch to the world through advertising? Yes. Are you willing to spend even a small amount of time and money promoting it by putting it on your home page? It would appear not. Most company home pages either never change at all, or just have some sort of automatically updated news feed lurking apologetically in the corner. Sure, the major product launch may appear here fleetingly, but it’ll quickly be superseded by a “Jim celebrates 40 years in the workshop” blog post.

This is insane. So why does it happen? Mainly because most of us are using website content management systems which don’t have a facility to make it easy to update the home page arbitrarily. It doesn’t have to be this way. The home page needs its own design system, with modular panels which you can easily swap in and out. The key is the word “easily”. You shouldn’t need to know about HTML or CSS to drop elements into a page any more. And if it’s easy to do, you’ll use it.

This is certainly something which you should specify next time you have a website redesign, but there’s also no reason why you can’t talk to your web development people about replacing your current compromised home page with something standalone and better. It doesn’t need to be driven by the rest of the CMS.

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