September 10, 2002

Should corporate logos be home links?
Recently on the SIGIA-L list, a discussion broke out on whether or not logos on web sites should be linked to the site's home page. Here's my analysis:

There are a few underlying questions:
  1. Do users expect logos to be linked to the home page rather than just being a graphical logo?
  2. Can a linked logo replace another link labeled "home"?
  3. Does placement of the logo matter (e.g. is top-left better)?
  4. If a logo is a link, where would users expect it to go?
Here are my assumptions when designing or reviewing sites:
  • A purely graphical logo is great, but a linked logo provides some additional functionality at little cost.
  • *I think* most users, *when seeing that a logo is a link*, will expect it to go to the site's home page - there are few other logical places for it to go. (related to question 4)
  • I've seen some users click on logos, but most will choose a "home" link first when looking to go "home." (related to questions 1 & 2) Therefore...
  • You need to have an explicit "home" link - a logo isn't explicit enough. (related to question 2)
  • Placement always matters - but if you think of the logo-link as a supplementary link to the "home" link, then it's not that critical from a navigation point of view - it's likely more important from a branding and context point of view. (related to question 3)
Research into this would be great, but frankly I don't *need* research on this issue. In my opinion, there's almost no risk in making a logo a link - risk enters the equation when people try to eliminate a "home" link (in main navigation) which I think is patently a Bad Idea. Logos don't look like main/global navigation -- they look like branding. Use them for navigation too as a "bonus" -- Good Idea. It was also mentioned that logos are generally nice, large targets to click on -- Fitt's Law tells us this is a Good Thing.

Some related research:
Examining User Expectations for the Location of Common E-Commerce Web Objects
(If you agree that most site's put their logo top-left, then you can draw the conclusion that most users expect logos to be links home.)

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