This is a very interesting article i found on Jakob Nielsen’s (The God of web usability) website useit.com.
It’s about the 10 most violated homepage design guidelines, which are the following ordered by compliance rate (number one is the guideline that the fewest sites follow):
1. Emphasize what your site offers that’s of value to users and how your services differ from those of key competitors
2. Use a liquid layout that lets users adjust the homepage size
3. Use color to distinguish visited and unvisited links
4. Use graphics to show real content, not just to decorate your homepage
5. Include a tag line that explicitly summarizes what the site or company does
6. Make it easy to access anything recently featured on your homepage
7. Include a short site description in the window title
8. Don’t use a heading to label the search area; instead use a “Search” button to the right of the box
9. With stock quotes, give the percentage of change, not just the points gained or lost
10. Don’t include an active link to the homepage on the homepage
It’s totally true, a big number of the websites i’ve seen on the web violate these rules.
And the only rule i can understand people breaking is the homepage size one, because it’s easier for designers to work on a known and fixed space, as it becomes more like print for them, and they can produce better eye candy.
To read the full thing and the details of each and every guideline click here.