Online journalism mourns death of the home page

Today the BBC reports on findings from Jakob Neilsen‘s latest usability research.

The research brings into focus two rather worrying issues for online journalism:

Most [web users] ignore efforts to make them linger and are suspicious of promotions designed to hold their attention.

In 2004, about 40% of people visited a homepage and then drilled down to where they wanted to go and 60% use a deep link that took them directly to a page or destination inside a site. In 2008, said Dr Nielsen, only 25% of people travel via a homepage. The rest search and get straight there. [Jakob Neilsen]

‘Users’ (isn’t it time we had a more fitting term for them?) are already losing patience with the current generation of click-per-view advertising. They are also far less willing than in years gone by to click through your content starting from the homepage.

If you can’t guide your users to your content via your home page, then your homepage begins to lose its real estate value.

And just as hard-copy journalism is losing out on advertising revenue to online sources, so these online sources will surely (if they aren’t already) lose advertising revenue to search engines and aggregators.

So its back to the drawing board as far as online business models are concerned.

Bytheby, if you are interested in writing for the web, here are the notes to a (very basic) lecture on web writing I gave at Birkbeck a fortnight back.

Any feedback more than welcome…

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