Homepage Usability is not all that dissimilar from other website usability concepts that you will encounter in the field. But, given that a homepage may serve some different purposes from other pages you may need to test, I’ll approach this one on its own. (Thankfully, I won’t have to get technical)
#1 – Mobile Website Testing
Websites will always call for a compatible mobile version of the homepage. A mobile website needs to load in under ten seconds (1-3 is optimal), lest the browser stall, and it needs to have margins compatible with the dimensions of a mobile device, including images and landscape.
Mobile homepages need to be less graphically-heavy and more standard in web-form elements. You must test out their compatibility with Android, Windows and Apple mobile devices. And since many set top boxes and consoles also work with the mobile websites now, test them out too. (An Android device should be your standard for testing the performance of your mobile website).
#2 – Identity and Recognition
You need to be sure that when your homepage loads, it presents the most important elements, right off the bat. The logo needs to load faster than any other graphic. Themes, logo and CSS styling should match accordingly.
Flow and navigation should lead your eye from the logo to the news feed to the most important content on the site. All links and navigation should be easily discerned from the top or the left of the page. Flow is not as technical; it can be analyzed by testing out the page from multiple places, on multiple devices, with many different kinds of people as test subjects… to ensure it delivers effectively.
#3 – Bandwidth and Servers
The final element to test for is server response time, which must never exceed a few hundred milliseconds (thousandths of seconds). In addition, bandwidth must cover a number of commonly-used speeds, such as DSL, cable, mobile 3G/4G and other forms of WiFi. Your homepage must load within a few seconds. If it takes longer then there are issues that must be addressed.
Homepage usability is really no different than standard website usability practices, but if you’re just designing a basic homepage, then I suggest focusing on the elements above. Good luck!