There’s one particular type of question I’ve been getting from clients lately as we work on developing their homepage. The question sometimes manifests itself as “Why is there an ‘About the Author’ link in the navigation if there’s also a short bio on the homepage?” Or it’s “What’s the difference between the ‘About the Book’ tab and the ‘Read More’ link after the brief book description on the homepage?” The theme of the question is the same: Are we duplicating links? Or content? And the answer is, usually, “Yes!” But that’s not a bad thing…
A site’s navigation and its homepage content are two separate entities, even though they both appear on the homepage. Here’s how they differ:
The navigation is essentially the primary way of getting around a website. It will appear on every page of the site and will allow people to find anything on the site no matter where they are. Which is why it’s so important that the tabs in the navigation be clear and concise. Stay away from play on words, no matter how cute they may be. If you’re going to have a page about the book, call it “About the Book” or “About [BOOK TITLE]. Make it as easy as possible for people to figure out where to find what they’re looking for.
Most importantly, the navigation is for the reader. It’s to help them figure out how to find what they’re looking for. And that’s different from…
While the navigation is about what readers are looking for, the homepage content is about where YOU want the readers to go. It should be more of a teaser of the pieces of the site that you want people to find. So you may have an “About the Author” page in the navigation, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a brief teaser of the bio (say, the first few sentences) with a link to “Read More” that takes you to the same page as the “About the Author” tab. It’s just a different way to get people there.
Same thing with a book. If the goal of your website is to promote your latest book, then you should have a tantalizing book teaser on the homepage with links just below that to “Read More,” “Read Excerpts,” “Read Reviews” and/or “Buy the Book.” These may be somewhat duplicative of what’s in the navigation, but that’s okay. You’re pushing people to where you want them to go. Someone who reads the book teaser and wants to learn more shouldn’t have to refer to the navigation to figure out where that content is. Instead, you’re taking them there.
Many books offer different ways to find the same things. You might have a Table of Contents in the front of the book and an Index in the back of the book. Your homepage content and navigation are similar. And, yes, duplication is okay!