hobbit hole"An Unexpected Morning Visit" by Ted Nasmith

According to Christopher Vogler's 7-page "A Practical Guide to The Hero with a Thousand Faces," the hero of mythic structure begins at home, in the familiar, the known. From there, the hero's life becomes relatively more complex, dangerous, and vibrant. "Relatively," because it is only in contrast to the home—the hobbit hole, Kansas, 221B Baker St.—that the world to come appears so compelling. The home itself is not empty of meaning, though. It is often comfortable and tranquil, "[where] everything is normal and according to plan and expectation"1.

The web's incantation of "home" isn't much different. Internet homepages are starting points (sometimes even called start pages, rather than homepages) that lead off to other aspects of a website. In this way, much of their meaning is filled in by the ways they relate to the other pages. A homepage does not only gather meaning from this relative positioning to the other pages, though. Just as the mythic hero's home is not empty, the internet homepage also has some quintessential properties.

A quick search through a few popular websites might yield these results regarding homepage features: Homepages have navigation to the other pages on a site. Homepages are relatively short, often only providing small chunks of text that can be viewed in full on other pages. The homepage is often a news hub, where trending or new information about someone or certain topics might be read.

home iconA "home" symbol.

Homepages, regardless of their site's purpose and content, are the web's most standardized pages, "[where] everything is normal and according to plan and expectation." Homepages are predictable, for the most part, even given the vast and motley compendium of narratives and protagonists on the web. Though a homepage's design and superfluous features might vary from site to site, the quintessential features that make them "home" are incantations that hearken to their mythic forbearers. They are launching points for the narratives of web design and site mapping that lead their 21st–century protagonists towards a myriad of directions, roadblocks, and unknowns.