The anatomy of our new homepage

Discover what makes a good homepage and how to efficiently help users get to where they need to go

3 min read

August 2020

Homepages aren't what they used to be

Unlike the days when we had to type in the full address of the website we wanted to visit, the homepage is no longer the starting point of a website.

As established users, we are completely comfortable typing in the exact thing we want to find more about into a search engine and then choosing a location and landing on a relevant page that appeals, totally bypassing the homepage. This way of browsing the internet has become naturalised to almost all of us.

Homepages used to be viewed as a concise reflection of the entire website and the main entrance way into other pages. It was the front door to the shop, guiding us to the appropriate aisles, so we could buy what we wanted.

Today, entering through this front door is no longer needed. The way our minds and search engines work, means we can often bypass the front door and be taken straight to the item on the shelf we want to learn more about.

Usually, a homepage is a one-page summary of what you do. This works in contrast with what most users are coming to your website for – the details. 

The most important page on your website is the one page most relevant to the user’s requirements.


Here to help you find what you’re looking for

When users do land on your homepage, either via Google or heading straight there, they will look for help from it in order to know where to go next to complete their personal goal – this could be, download a prospectus, apply for a course, or collaborate with our researchers. 

The homepage needs to be easy to understand and navigate, allowing your different audiences to find the information they are searching for.

So, the homepage may or may not be the first page a user visits, but it is certainly a take-off point to other pages. 

This is why the navigation from the homepage is so vital to ensure successful user journeys.

A homepage should not bombard a user with information. It needs to take the user where they want to go in a matter of seconds.

Dropdown megamenus, like the one we have recently introduced to our website, include links to the main top-level sections of a website – the essence of what the organisation is – in a clear, structured way.

Screenshot of the website megamenu design.

What our homepage says about us

Over the last few months redesigning our homepage, through a range of discussions and analysis, we knew we wanted it to:

  • be a window into the University and life at Plymouth – a first impression which defines the DNA of the institution
  • quickly take our users to the parts of the site they need to get to
  • highlight our mission statement and values
  • showcase our research-rich reputation
  • promote a range of interesting and pioneering content across audiences.

It's still important to remember though, that every page is responsible for creating a first impression and communicating the goals of a website. Every page has a responsibility to tell users where they are and what else they can do.

Screenshot of the new homepage hero image design.
The university of pioneers, advancing knowledge and transforming lives

Embrace simplicity and your message is clear

If we were to ask users of any website what their ideal web experience would be, it would be to find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible.

To ensure this becomes a promise that can be met, the less is more principle is a valuable one to adhere to.

Our new homepage has removed unnecessary distractions and focused on a simple, visual design offering users a way to find out more about studying and working with us, our research, as well as our location and what makes Plymouth unique.

The new homepage layout and range of content items works in tandem with our megamenu, which itself presents a range of key, focused landing pages and associated content.

This synergy of elements functions to offer our users quick and direct routes to top-levels sections, including study, research, international and business. 

The design ensures visitors – no matter their personal goal – come away from their experience with a rich flavour of what Plymouth has to offer.

Our homepage message is clear – Plymouth is the university of pioneers, advancing knowledge and transforming lives. A fantastic place to come to study and work, in a beautiful part of the world.


Website Refresh Project 2020

The University's external website is undergoing a refresh to update certain design elements, functionality and content, as part of a project ending on 31 July 2020. 

Keep up to date with everything that's happening – from the latest new content design features, to the next developments on the horizon

Post-it notes used for Agile planning.