Finding a home for the Home button


There’s no place like Home. Or is there?

Part of serving a wide range of clients means studying their websites all the time, and looking at usage patterns. It allows us to determine who is currently using our clients’ sites and – how their habits and preferences are shifting. Which brings us to the Home button.

The logo as a Home button.

The practice in recent years has been to eliminate the traditional Home button. By using the logo instead, sites have had a convenient (and content-efficient) way of letting users get back to comfortable, navigable ground. Furthermore, using the logo frees up room in the navigation bar for other navigation elements. The chart below illustrates the percentage of websites using a Home button versus their logo. It proves what we already suspect: the Home button may be on its way out.


Not so fast.

Many of our clients’ websites are trafficked by users who are web savvy – but not all of them. Sites that serve users who are elderly, mentally ill, visually impaired, socioeconomically troubled, or not conversant with traditional site functionality may struggle with the shifting variables in web design.

Giving these people a traditional path back to their starting point can be comforting and can keep them on the site. In Steve Krug’s excellent book Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability he writes: “Having a home button in sight at all times offers reassurance that no matter how lost I may get, I can always start over, like pressing a reset button or using a ‘Get out of jail free’ card.”

The breadcrumb alternative

To keep users oriented within a site, breadcrumbs can be helpful. When a user lands on an internal page of your website from another source, breadcrumbs will allow the person to see exactly where they stand within the site’s structure – without taking up much space. Breadcrumbs are also easy to implement into the visual design of a site, and the links contained in a breadcrumb trail give the user additional information.

Home, reconsidered.

For some sites, such as social networks, the homepage is a key feature, with a personalized news feed or a central hub for user activity with key functions. In these cases, clear pathways to get Home are valuable. Look at Facebook. It has made changes to the tool tip when you hover over the logo, reflecting a change in user understanding of how to get back home.

But on sites where the homepage is not the central hub of user interest and activity (such as eBay), the standard practice is to make the route home less prominent. One notable exception to this rule is Pinterest, where the homepage is hugely important to the user but has no dedicated home button – only a clickable logo in the top center, and search in the top left.

3 things to remember

1. Look at the audiences. Are the primary users likely to need directions Home?

2. Evaluate the site’s complexity. Are there complex subpages that might make navigating difficult, and a Home button appealing?

3. Don’t go with the crowd. Trends can be interesting and useful. But they shouldn’t be a substitute for independent thought. Yes, there is movement away from having a Home button, but your site should respond to its users, not what the herd does.

As always, we’re ready to continue the conversation over a beverage.


The new old folks home


Nursing home marketing kinda stinks

Take a look at 5 of the biggest nursing home firms in the nation.

The biggie is HCR ManorCare, which encourages us to “choose a proven leader.” Next up: Golden Living, promising “integrated health and wellness.” Then there’s Kindred Healthcare, “dedicated to hope, healing, and recovery.”

Pretty homogeneous messages, in our view. Especially in light of the fact that these are major brands operating 1500+ facilities nationwide.

The blanding of healthcare content

Nursing homes are part of the “blanding” of health care marketing in general: Generic, keep-it-up-the-middle content that risks nothing. And of course, safety is good. Who wants to put their parent in a place that’s less than safe? Comfort and aversion to risk are at the heart of nursing home practice itself, so why not its marketing?

Still, it makes us wonder what’s next for nursing homes in terms of brand development, so we took a closer look at what’s happening out there.

Independent & Engaged: The 2 key triggers.

The adult children of parents who are now in their 70s and 80s want more for their folks than a bed and a smiling caretaker who says, “How are we feeling today?”
The adult children are the decision-drivers and they’re smart consumers. They know how to shop for services. They also know that the quality of their parents’ lives is indexed against 2 criteria that are related to (but separate from) physical and mental health: Independence and engagement.

Independence is what we all know it is: Being able to move around, make everyday decisions, and not rely on anyone else more than necessary.

Engagement is different. This expresses involvement: with other people, with hobbies, news, activities, and music – a sense of authentic interest in something that makes us feel connected.

A new way of looking at old people

Until now, eldercare marketing has focused largely on services. Dementia care, assisted living, outpatient care, rehab services, skilled nursing, physical therapy, pharmacy, hospice, and so forth.

Why? Because those Boomer kids want to know mom or dad can get what they need through as few providers as possible.

But some organizations are taking the marketing challenge to a new level.

Covenant Care, a California-based owner of multiple nursing facilities has explored what really matters to their patients, and they’ve made some changes that make sense.

Getting rid of the old “nursing stations” that remind everyone of where they are. Ramping up Wi-Fi access. Adding rehab suites that offer a higher level of accommodations. Focusing on dining as a pivotal experience. And consistency in staffing, so residents can develop relationships with the staff.

Covenant Care’s position of “we are family serving families” gets stronger from these changes. It proves that they’re willing to take the risk of looking at the elderly as individual people who are consumers, rather than bodies that need a set of services.

What’s next?

Consumerism will enter the nursing home field more fully in the next 10 years as Boomers – the most demanding consumers of all – get into their late 70s and 80s.

Some projections say that the 75+ population will increase 70% by 2025. They will want clear explanations about care, treatment, and what’s in it for them. Content-rich video will play a big role in this.

So we encourage every client in the healthcare arena to look beyond services. Look beyond physical health. Look past the wrinkles. Start treating the elderly the way major consumer brands treat their consumers. Engage them

We’re always up for a chat. Contact us for a beverage and a conversation whenever the mood strikes.