How To Offer Personalized Homepages and Why It Matters
The New Year has quickly become one full of personalization. With the increased usage of social networks, infographics, video, mobile, and other engaging content, people are becoming accustomed to things being tailored just for them. You now get the banner ads that are most relevant to you, the search engine results you want to see, and now video services like YouTube and Hulu even let you chose with advertisement fits you best. The one thing that has remained largely the same is the homepage; however companies and users alike are starting to realize that even this aspect of a website can be altered. So why not go for it?
What Is a Personalized Homepage?
A personalized homepage has two different meanings: Someone visits a website and sees a different homepage than someone else, or someone signs onto a browser and sees a homepage. Homepage is different than landing page (although landing pages can also be personalized) because you don’t always land on a homepage when you click on a link or an ad. You can land on a homepage, but regardless, it really just refers to the general page you would see if you type in the URL or open a browser.
A personalized homepage generally means that visitors will either:
A. Answer one or two brief questions and then be taken to a screen that is right for them,
B The information will changed based on past clicks of the user (in the case of YouTube), or
C Users will be able to use a tool in order to organize the homepage they want to see.
When it comes to companies creating personalized homepages, the different homepages are split up based upon where people are in the buying cycle. Note: Not every company needs to have a personalized homepage. These work best for companies who have a diverse audience of serious visitors.
iGoogle and the Benefits of a Personalized Homepage
Until now, it was the tool iGoogle that companies used to create a personalized homepage; however Google announced this past July that the service would be ending in November of this year. Their reasoning? Google doesn’t think a tool like this is needed because there are so many new apps for Chrome and mobile devices. However, the benefits still seem quite clear to many users as well as other services (discussed in the next section). A few of these benefits include:
- Speed. It’s a faster way to get the information you really want because it lets you read at a glance when you don’t have much.
- Motivation. When it comes to iGoogle, you’re the one doing the customization. I could help you stay motivated at work or give you a reason to read the news if you create something that really works for you.
- Organization. Having something set to your schedule can help you stay organized.
- Priorities. You get to prioritize. If social sharing is at the top of your list, having those buttons at the top will help make it easy. Really, it’s all about efficieny.
A TechCrunch thread probably proves that personalized homepages are useful the best. For example, one reader commented, “WTF google? My igoogle homepage has a sentimental value. You destroy it and your killing a part of me that’s been in a lovely relationship since 2005. Reconsider igoogle NOW!” I think that says it all.
How to Get Started with a Personalized Homepage
Creating a personalized homepage for your company website involves using some type of tool or service, much like iGoogle. A few of the newest options available include:
- Gravity. This company was created by former MySpace executives and aimed to use information about users social activity (status updates, tweets, etc.) and clicks to create an interest graph for users. The graph will change in real time and tailor content to that individual user.
- Backstitch. This is a tool recommended by TechCrunch that seems to be gaining a bit of speed as we enter into the New Year. The unique thing about this tool is that it’s the users who create their personalized pages.
- Netvibes. This tool makes it easy to decide what you want to see on your homepage—the weather, news, different searches, etc. It is, however, more used for business needs than individual, which separates it from Backstitch.
While Google might be right in the sense that personalized homepages could someday become a thing of the past, it seems to me that they are only growing as we enter 2013. Apps are great, but people want more, and personalized homepages can do that.
Have you ever gone to a company website and gotten a personalized homepage? Has your company ever tried creating different personalized homepages? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo Credit: thegirlscave.com
Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from algorithm updates. She writes for HigherVisibility, a nationally recognized SEO consulting firm that offers Ecommerce SEO services to a wide range of companies across the country.