The homepage is the first page of your website that most of your customers will see. It is the first opportunity you have to ‘sell’ to them. It’s a big marketing tool, and with only a finite amount of time to keep people on your homepage, it should be clear, concise and encourage them to delve deeper. It’s not about getting all the information on to one page – the homepage should be high-level content with links to other pages and calls to action.
Having a think about your own searching habits is useful. When you’re buying a product, researching a firm, or looking for a service – how many sites do you look at before buying? How much time do you spend on a site if it’s not clear what they do, or it is hard to navigate? How often do you read every single word on the web page? It’s easy to get quickly turned off by a website and to go elsewhere. Here are some tips to stop that from happening and don’t forget to make notes in the content planning template – [Download not found]
Attention-grabbing headlines, short statements, short sentences, and making sure the most important information is there to read. People will rarely read a website – people scan. Keep this in mind when preparing your content, not just for your homepage, but for the whole website.
Tell your customers what you do
The people you are targeting are just the same as you – customers. So, try and think objectively about your offering.
What do your customers need to know about you and your products / services that will draw them in? You only have a finite amount of time to keep their interest, so it needs to be clear from the outset who you are and what you do.
Grab their attention with professional pictures
Eye-catching, professional photography or high-quality images or graphics are an excellent way to draw people’s eye, so long as they are relevant and in context with the content. However, too much imagery or misplaced adverts could cause ‘banner blindness’ and quickly switch people off. Using high-resolution pictures can cause problems with load time. Make sure all your imagery is optimised for the web.
What’s your Unique Selling Point (USP)?
How will you differentiate yourself from your competitors? What do you offer that others don’t? Make a list of the major selling points and understand what you provide that’s different to others, or how you do it better. How will what you do benefit your target market? What are their pain points? When customers are looking to buy, sometimes even the smallest of benefits can help them to decide.
Blogs, news, and events
If you want to have this type of information on your website, then linking to dedicated pages from the homepage is a good idea. Perhaps just using an attention-grabbing headline to draw people into your blog. Or a bit about where you might be exhibiting next. This type of content needs to be kept up to date though as customers will quickly lose faith if they see your last blog or event update was from a year ago. If you regularly tweet, then perhaps a twitter feed might be a good idea?
What else would help your customers to buy from you?
Can you talk about the people you have worked with? Can you use company logos? Testimonials? Call to actions? Don’t forget prominent contact information and to include links to any social media channels where you are active.
Be easy to navigate
A homepage (and indeed the whole website) should be easy to navigate. In my opinion, the web content and the design are linked. I like to see how the navigation of the website will work first so that you can plan the content to flow with the navigation. Your web designer should advise on the best navigation for your website.
What to do next
I’d encourage you to have a look at other websites. Look at sites from which you regularly buy or get information. What is it about them that you like? What makes you stay on the website? How do they organise their information? Then try and find ones that you don’t like – you may know some already. What don’t you like about it? Make some notes to help shape your own website.
If you would like more detailed information about Homepage Usability, then the Top 10 Guidelines for Homepage Usability from the NN Group is good reading.