While there may be some debate about the priority of the home page, it is still one of the most important pages of a website. It is the place a user can alway go to to get him or herself out of the maze of your website. A home page is sort of like a compass.
Therefore, it is still a very important part of your website and given proper attention to optimizing for user interaction.
1. Begin with the end in mind – what is your goal?
When designing anything, whether it is a website or a car or house, always begin with the end in mind. Think about what you are doing and why. Let that inform your strategies.
2. One click – Get them to the next page
Marcus Sheridan of the Sales Lion points out that getting a user to the next thing should be a high priority.
There is such thing as choice overload.
Essentially, if a user has too many choices, he or she has trouble making their own choice.
Simplify the page and encourage users to make a top priority choice.
3. Avoid distractions
There really is little reason to spend time on distractions in light of the previous point, however, there is one distraction that often gets used on home pages, and that makes for a problem.
Or carousels if you wish.
Thijs de Valk from WordPress company Yoast lays out very good reasons for the lack of using sliders (similar to carousels).
4. Use excellent copy
For our purposes, let me introduce you to two copywriters. Henneke Duistermaat and Joanna Wiebe have been helping website owners write effective copy for some time now. Henneke is known for her articles on seductive copywriting and Joanna is, simply, the queen of copywriting in North America.
Henneke offers some hard-to-hear advice for us in an article at Copyblogger:
“The hard truth is that nobody is interested in you, your company, or your products, because people are only interested in themselves.”
“Famous direct response copywriters like John Caples, Eugene Schwartz, and Joe Sugarman have all said it: To sell your products, you need to focus on the benefits to your readers.”
Just like leaving distractive sliders off the front page, you should leave the self-serving language off the front page too. Talk about your benefits first.
So, your headers and titles should contain info on benefits which align with your Unique Value Proposition. In other words, like any other piece of content, headlines matter!
This is where Joanna comes in.
Wiebe, of Copyhackers, said this in a guest post at Kissmetrics:
“A/B testers prove time and again that headlines are critical, as this headline test, which resulted in a 10.4% lift in conversion, showed. And every direct response and CRO copywriter has found this to be true: the first headline your visitor sees is the most important copy you’ll write.”
Then, she proceeds to give readers a 9 step process to write homepage headlines.
5. Be a hero
The top of the home page is referred to as the hero shot. The hero shot is above the fold and the most prime real estate on the home page.
So, utilize that area with your most important goal.
Are you trying to build your email list? Create a call-to-action in that area.
Is your most important goal to get people to contact you for a meeting? Fill it in.
6. Be sensible
Sometimes people lose their marbles when creating a home page and they throw sensibility out the door. Four things that shouldn’t change on the home page include your logo, your contact information, navigation, and continuity.
These elements don’t have to dominate the home page but don’t make them hard to find either.
Have you ever looked at restaurant’s website on your mobile phone and looked for the phone number? What happened when you didn’t find it? What happened when you did?
These elements should maintain continuity throughout the website. It helps users know that they are on your website, how to get from one page to the next, and how to contact you when they need to.
7. Professional design
In 2016, the thought of not having a professional design for a home page seems impossible. It still happens.
In spite of all of the previous elements, a good design is still indispensable.
To have a professional design, the website must be laid out well, have good quality images and graphics, and well-coordinated color scheme. Of course, these elements go with having a professional design for the entire website.
When using images, use professional images. Do not use amateur photos, especially on your home page.
You only get one chance to make a first impression, right?
Just like the copy for our websites, we often wait until the very end of building a site to think about a home page. I am guilty as well.
Building a home page is not a simple task and can include various different elements and disciplines to make it work well. Don’t let your home page be an afterthought. Think about your goals, write good copy, avoid distractions, utilize the hero area, use professional design and be sensible.
Happy home paging.