Introducing new products when traffic skips over the home page and goes directly to interior sections of the site.

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The concept of the "home page" is being redefined as search engines become the natural place many businesspeople choose to begin their online experiences. Efficiencies in search have allowed users to be transported directly to the product they seek instead of being escorted through the home page front door and relying on a site's internal navigation or search engine. While this is a valued benefit of a well-planned search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, it also raises some issues about successfully introducing and cross-selling products.

It is critical for a site to have a solid information architecture foundation to accommodate a variety of different user scenarios. The new model is not to rely on a single home page to introduce customers to your products and brand but instead to treat every page like it's your home page. Brand awareness, site navigation and marketing need to be reinforced at all levels. Even the deepest parts of a site should help prospects and customers understand what the site is about as if they were seeing your brand for the first time.

Primary navigation structures are not only a kind of users' guide, they are communications tools and opportunities to market products. Nomenclature for these areas needs to be carefully considered, as it will inform prospects of new offerings that may interest them.

Once on a detail page, users will be most responsive to products related to what they searched for. If done right, contextual promotions will prompt them to read the message, click on the link and ultimately buy. Introducing modules that integrate with the content such as "If you're interested in X, you may also be interested in Y" is a great example of this. Understanding how your prospects arrive on your site and how they get around will help you craft a holistic user experience.

Jeff Piazza is a principal and creative director at interactive studio Behavior Design.

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