In Home Page Goals Derek Powazek explains why he designs the deepest pages of a site first before working his way back to the home page:
Before I get into those goals, here’s a grain of salt. Every site I’ve ever worked on has had strikingly similar traffic trends, and one stands out. Remember that smallest, deepest element…? This is the atomic element – for a news site, it’s the story page; for a search engine, it’s the search result; for a store, it’s a product page. This page accounts for 60 to 75 percent of all page views on the site. The rest belong to the home page.
He goes on to say that a home page has four main goals (and I think, for the most part, he’s correct in his analysis):
- Answer the question, “What is this place?”
- Don’t slow down repeat visitors
- Show what’s new
- Provide consistent, reliable global navigation
He goes on to recommend making part of the home page dynamic to address the first three priorities: “That area can show an explanation to newbies. But once the user is logged in, replace the explanation with some information specific to that user (which also meets goal three).”
Works for me.