Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed

Jakob Nielsen and Marie Tahir , 2001

Homepages are the most valuable real estate in the world. Millions of dollars are funneled through a space that's not even a square foot in size. The homepage is also your company's face to the world. Potential customers look at your company's online presence before doing any business with you. Complexity or confusion make people go away. Of course, all other aspects of bad web design should be fixed as well, but if the homepage doesn't communicate what users can do and why they should care about the website, you might as well not have a website at all. That's why homepage usability is so important and that's why we wrote a book specifically about this one topic.

We followed on our own principles when naming the book. Most people should be able to figure out what a book called Homepage Usability is about. Two words, and you know the topic. (New Riders Publishing.)

Study Guide

Four exercises  to accompany the book for use by corporate reading groups or individual home study.


Winner of the Independent Publisher Book Award for best book of the year in the "computer/Internet" category. Award presented at BookExpo America.

NetMechanic : "You'll probably have it [the book's checklist] taped next to your monitor soon after finishing the book ... excellent resource and well worth the cost."

AbleStable : "***** rating ... "a truly wonderful book ... great resource for anyone wanting to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of homepage web design."

PC Magazine : "a must-read for Web site designers."

Blogcritics : "Well worth the money [...] It's so much fun just to read."

Mantex UK : "any Web designer [...] will learn a lot."

Danny Yee's Book Reviews : "invaluable advice on web design - I learned a lot from it, as I think even seasoned web designers will."

Stuttgarter (German)

Folha de S. Paulo Review (Portuguese)

Have Us Review Your Homepage

Nielsen Norman Group offers a consulting service with an independent usability review of your homepage.

  • Get a report that spares no punches while giving you directions for how to improve the design of the most important page on your website.
  • Get your score and find out how you stack up against the other sites we have reviewed.

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. 113 Design Guidelines for Homepages
  3. Determining Homepage Content
  4. Vertical Industry Segments
  5. Communicating the Site's Purpose
  6. Communicating Information About Your Company
  7. Content Writing
  8. Revealing Content Through Examples
  9. Archives and Accessing Past Content
  10. Links
  11. Navigation
  12. Search
  13. Tools and Task Shortcuts
  14. Graphics and Animation
  15. Graphic Design
  16. UI Widgets
  17. Window Titles
  18. URLs
  19. News and Press Releases
  20. Popup Windows and Staging Pages
  21. Advertising
  22. Welcomes
  23. Communicating Technical Problems and Handling Emergencies
  24. Credits
  25. Page Reload and Refresh
  26. Customization
  27. Gathering Customer Data
  28. Fostering Community
  29. Dates and Times
  30. Stock Quotes and Displaying Numbers
  31. Homepage Design Statistics
  32. Percentages showing how frequently each of the possible alternatives are used for main homepage design choices.
  33. Download Time
  34. Basic Page Layout
  35. Page Width
  36. Liquid Versus Frozen Layout
  37. Page Length
  38. Frames
  39. Fundamental Page Design Elements
  40. Logo
  41. Search
  42. Navigation
  43. Footer Navigation
  44. Site Map
  45. Routing Pages
  46. Splash Pages
  47. Frequent Features
  48. Sign In
  49. About Us
  50. Contact Info
  51. Privacy Policy
  52. Job Openings
  53. Help
  54. Graphics and Multimedia
  55. Pictures
  56. ALT Text
  57. Music
  58. Animation
  59. Advertising
  60. Typography
  61. Body Text and Background Colors
  62. Link Formatting
  63. Recommended Homepage Design
  64. Fifty Homepage Reviews
  65. Listing of Window Titles and Taglines
  66. Screen Real Estate Allocation
  67. Gallery of Logos
  68. Gallery of Search Features
  69. Gallery of People Photos
  70. Gallery of Shopping Carts
  71. Index


Book cover of the Chinese (simplified)  translation of Homepage Usability Book cover of Traditional Chinese translation of Homepage Usability

Chinese (simplified) at Dangdang.com 


ISBN 986-7944-16-X

Chinese (traditional)

ISBN 986-7944-16-X

Book cover of Czech translation of Homepage usability Book cover of French translation of Homepage Usability

Czech at Zonerpress.cz

Použitelnost domovských stránek
ISBN 80-86815-18-8


French at Amazon.fr

L'art de la page d'accueil: 50 sites web passés au crible
ISBN 2-212-11117-7

Book cover of German Translation of Homepage usability Book cover of Italian Translation of Homepage Usability

German at Amazon.de

Homepage Usability. 50 enttarnte Webseiten
ISBN 3-8272-6847-8

Stuttgatter-Zeitgung review

Italian at Apogeeonline.com

Homepage usability: 50 siti web analizzati
ISBN 88-7303-848-4


Book cover of Japanese translation of Homepage Usability Book cover of Finnish (Norwegian) translation of Homepage Usability

Japanese at Amazon.co.jp

ホームページ・ユーザビリティ ~顧客をつかむ勝ち組サイト32の決定的法則
ISBN 4-8443-5640-2

Finnish at adlibris.com

Funksjonelle hjemmesider: 50 hjemmesider bit-for-bit
ISBN 82-412-0529-5

Book cover of Polish translation of Homepage Usability Book cover of Portuguese translation of Homepage Usability

Polish at helion.pl

Funkcjonalność stron www. 50 witryn bez sekretów
ISBN 85-352-0945-X


Homepage: Usabilidade - 50 websites desconstruídos
ISBN 83-246-0126-0

Book cover for Russian Translation of Homepage Usability Book cover of Spanish translation of Homepage Usability

Russian at Williamspublishing.com

Дизайн Web-страниц (веб дизайн). Анализ удобства и простоты использования 50 сайтов
ISBN 5-8459-0315-7

Spanish at casdellibro.com

Usabilidad de Páginas de Inicio: Análisis de 50 sitios Web
ISBN 84-205-3202-9

Book cover of Swedish translation of Homepage Usability  

Swedish at adlibris.com

Användbara Hemsidor - Analys av 50 webbplatser
ISBN 91-63-11972-2



This list of corrections does not include minor typos but only errors of substance.

Page 165
The pie chart has too small a wedge for "content of interest" (should be 19%) and too big a wedge for "unused" (should be 31%).
Page 186-187
Comment 17 on page 187 refers to the menu item "Specialized Transportation" in the right column of the screenshot on page 186. The #17 red bubble has erroneously been placed in the first column instead.