For individuals who consume most of their news online news online—the majority of readers—the homepage used to be the main destination for most news stories. Many readers would simply visit their favorite news organization’s main page and browse the featured stories, clicking on intriguing articles or stories they deemed important based on their font size and placement on the homepage. A lot of users still do this today, however, there has been a massive shift in the use of the homepage as a main destination for readers.
Many people expect their news to come to them these days. With an increase in the use of social media by readers and news organizations, people expect to see all truly significant news jumping out at them from their Facebook newsfeed, their Twitter feed, and Instagram page.
The “death of the homepage” does not mean people have completely stopped consuming news from news sites. It means that people are still visiting these sites (based on most studies), but they are doing so through different means. A lot of web traffic is now derived from “dark social” or Facebook clicks, links distributed among friends, and through indirect links.
Although news sites may have lost some of the attraction of the homepage, they have gained even more viewers due to an influx in social media. The lack of views homepages are receiving today just means that readers are reaching news sites differently.
This, however, will realistically change the type of news stories many sites are distributing. Stories will need to be as attractive to readers as possible so when they see them in their social media feeds they want to click on them. News organizations will also be forced to step up their social media game and create effective means of distributing stories via popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Due to competition to engage readers in stories and get them to visit the site, articles will become more “reader-driven.” What I mean by this is that news sites will want to put out stories that readers especially WANT to read. No one is going to click on a link to a story that doesn’t have a good headline or seems boring to read. This can be good or bad depending on how you look at it.
One concern with this is that popular news sites will begin producing many of the same stories. Many national newspapers with a wide range of readers will want stories that appeal to a large group. A lot of these stories could end up being the same for different sites with similar audiences. However, we do see this today relatively often so I don’t think it will be that big of an issue.
t see the death of the homepage entirely as a negative, it’s more of a change in distribution which will force news sites to do more to engage readers.