Your website’s home page is the first impression some* visitors have of your organization, so careful thought should be given to which elements will live on the home page. The more focused your home page is, the more likely a visitor will quickly understand who you are and what you do.
Home pages can be broken down into three types of elements: introduction, entrance and announcement. I briefly cover what these are below, but you can find them explained in more detail in Luke Wroblewski’s book, Site-Seeing: A Visual Approach to Web Usability.
Introduction – describes your site and establishes its identity. Includes tag lines, positioning statements, images of your product or a brief explanation of your services.
Entrance – provides access points to interior content and explain what’s inside the site. Drop-down navigation menus, search utilities, and sampled content are good examples.
Announcement – shows what’s new and encourages return visits. These can include blogs, news items, event listings, advertisements or other call-to-action items.
*The reason I state “some” visitors will access your home page first is because sites that have structured their content with a high degree of search engine optimization (SEO) will have as many (or more) initial hits on their interior pages as they do on their home page.