There’s an article on the IDYeah Blog written by Vishal Mehta titled “Home is Not Required” (http://idyeah.com/blog/2013/03/home-not-required/) that discusses the ongoing debate regarding the use of a home button on websites that navigates users back to the site’s homepage.
I’ve been aware of this debate for quite some time now. Most UX professsionals argue that this button has become obsolete because it is now common practice to click on the site’s logo/name to navigate back to the homepage. Consequently, using a home button (whether in the form of the word “Home” or in the form of a symbol of a house) seems useless and a waste of valuable space. The widespread use of breadcrumbs, which can help users easily navigate back to the homepage, can also make this button seem redundant. Based upon the various articles and posts I read, I get the impression that the home button is steadily fading away.
In general, I agree with this assessment of the home button. However, I do wonder if using a home or house symbol that navigates back to the homepage is helpful to those with accessibility limitations – namely, users with cognitive impairments and/or language barriers. These users may greatly benefit from the use of symbols on a website. Obviously, it’s up to each individual website to decide whether a home button/symbol should be implemented, but I think it’s worth noting that a simple home symbol may offer simplicity and comfort to users with accessibility impairments who are frustrated/lost/confused and navigating deep within a website’s hierarchy of pages.
Do you have an opinion about the usefulness of the home button? If so, please share!