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Imagine there's no home page... No mass ads aimed at you...

In today's Media Guardian Jeff Jarvis puts forward an increasingly familiar but still very challenging argument that  the idea of home pages, especially home pages as the most important page on a website, needs a re-think. He makes a case for feeds-based news websites...

First, imagine if a site had only one page. Actually, think of it as more of a viewer, able to pull in modules of content from anywhere. So now you don't go to the content, it comes to you. No more clicking, hunting, and waiting for a static, one-size-fits-all page to fill your screen. You decide what you should see.

Today, thanks to embedded players, you may view a video while reading an article. We could add a box that will recommend related links. We can also include a headline box with a constantly updated feed of news, scores, or stock prices. And if there's news related to a story you have been tracking, you should be alerted. Maybe there's even an alternative soundtrack: news or music or friends talking about what you are watching. Now think of any content as a feed. Almost all media is a feed already. Certainly news is. So is broadcast. So is advertising (a feed of commercials, a feed of billboards passing by). I think news sites should be designed around the notion of feeds: this site's headlines, related blog headlines from elsewhere, alerts (tell me when something new comes in about, say, my favourite team or stock), classified ads (tell me when someone advertises a two-bedroom flat on Craigslist), photos, podcasts, and so on. So now we have an endless supply of fresh content to pour into those modules.

He's right of course. Although while search engine and social media traffic direct to pieces of content are eroding its importance, the Googles of this world still prioritise the home page in terms of how their alogrithms work. That is to say the main page of a domain is where most of a website's search equity (brand equity, online reputation, Googlejuice) resides.

That's not a barrier to Jarvis's idea necessarily. With search engines - the good ones anyhow - it will be usefulness that wins out and algorithms will be adapted to sniff out the best content, not the other way round...



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