You would think that a website homepage is the most important – the "front door," if you will. The homepage contains all the information needed to navigate through the site, and is the first page that a user sees… or is it? With social media platforms providing alternate means of distribution, users are typically directed straight to the page of interest rather than the home page of a site.
This is known as the "side door" to a website, and it has started to become much more accessible. The home page of a website, which originally was thought of to be the front door for users, is no longer the only way in. As social media now ranks as the third most important source of referrals to your website (up 200% in 2015), the homepage is becoming less important. Whether it's an e-commerce site like DAILYLOOK or a media site like the Washington Post, consumers are more often bypassing the homepage completely as they end up directly on an internal page by social media referral.
Why does this matter?
Performance optimizations are usually prioritized with the homepage and checkout pages carrying the most importance and the rest of the pages trailing behind. These were considered the most significant to optimize as they had the highest bounce rates. With optimizing applications being quite tedious, it made more sense to focus on where you would get the biggest bang for your buck. These days, however, millennials are driving a shift in purchasing behavior. 74% of consumers rely on social networks to guide purchasing decisions, meaning they get redirected to a products page by way of social promotion (Facebook being the most popular of channels). If these other pages – the pages that the consumers are directed straight to – are not up to par in terms of an optimal user experience, chances are bounce rates will increase and conversions will take a hit.
What can you do?
With your users coming in through the side door, it’s time to start focusing on optimizing other pages besides just your homepage and checkout page before it’s too late. Implement an application delivery platform that leverages machine learning to optimize performance and utilizes a CDN for delivery. With a continuous system that intelligently learns the application behavior, performance optimizations will be smarter, not harder, and you can spend more time improving the customer experience across the front door and side door.