Avenue A | Razorfish’s Garrick Schmitt has written a great post in the Digital Design Blog that riffs on information from their Digital Outlook report: Does the Home Page Still Matter?: Why Distribution Trumps Destination Online. Most of the web folks that I know have been working on this basis for some time now, but it remains important to underline that the old “get people in through the homepage” model is broken (and likely always was, it was just harder to figure out before).
Trying to force people into a specific usage pattern is a recipe for failure – trumped only by the mistake of trying to predict where users will come from in the first place. What does this mean in practice? Many things (and the conclusions in the post are right on), but two immediate things spring to mind:
- Deep links have to provide context within the URL itself (i.e., be readable)
- Don’t hide content in non-machine-readable formats that people can’t link to directly (and that Google can’t grok)