We’ve all heard that you only have one shot to make a great first impression, and the first time someone visits your website is no different. Websites are essential for businesses these days and as a branding expert I have seen my fair share of good and bad websites and homepages. You have just a few seconds to make an impact on your visitors and communicate something essential about your business and the product or services you provide, and if you can catch someone’s eye right away your chance of converting them will increase. A good website and strong homepage will help you bring in the business you want and communicate the most important elements of your brand.
In fact, as of the time that I’m writing this article, I took the time to do some clean-up on my own homepage! Like everyone, I want to put my best work on display, and luckily, I have the know-how and experience to put best practices into place. While content will vary by industry, whether you are DIYing a website or just want to clean-up the homepage you currently have, there are several elements I recommend you include on your homepage.
1. A clear headline/purpose – You want your headline to tell your visitors what you have to offer. This will likely be the first thing someone sees when they visit your site, so you want it to be concise, and clearly tell your visitor what exactly it is that your company does. This is probably obvious to some, but if you stop and think about it I am sure you can recall a time you visited a webpage and weren’t sure exactly what the company or brand was all about. So, on your site, cut out the confusion and make it known.
a. You can also have a sub-header that gives a little more explanation about your business and value proposition!
b. My headline is, “Brand Identity Designer for Savvy Business Owners and Solopreneurs” – This tells my visitors that I do branding and that I style social media. I suppose I am banking on someone knowing what a brand identity or social media style is… but if they don’t, I’m not sure they would be in the right place!(?)
Uh, moving on!
2. A call-to-action (or two or three) – Part of the purpose of your homepage is to get your visitors to explore your website more, maybe check out your products or services, learn about the company, etc. To do this you will need a call-to-action, preferably with all of them being to convenient links, that encourages them to dig deeper into your site. You should put your most important call-to-action first and organize others down the page.
a. On my page my call to action is under a sub-header "Visual Identity Design That Works For You" with a link to find out more about my services.
3. Beautiful images – You need to have awesome pictures and icons. You want to avoid cheesy or outdated imagery on your website as a whole and most definitely on your homepage. The images used should be in line with your brand style. Stock images are fine as long as they are aligned with your overall brand identity. As I have preached many times in other blog posts, you need a strong, cohesive visual identity to build trust with customers and potential customers.
a. On my website my images are fairly clean and have a white overlay to tone them down and to offset the punchy colors of my brand identity. Throughout my website and blog posts I have color overlays on high quality photos as part of my look. I also created icons that match my branding and use my brand colors.
4. Easy to use navigation – This is another one that seems obvious, but I have literally been to websites that were impossible to navigate. In fact, I have been to websites where I couldn’t figure the navigation out at all! Like I said earlier, it’s great to have convenient buttons paired with your calls-to-action so that your visitors can read, click, and be where you want them to be immediately, but your top-level navigation should be just as simple and friendly. Without straightforward navigation you will lose visitors fast!
a. I opted for ultra-simple navigation that goes to one page. The navigation title tells you what can be found on the page, no dropdowns. This isn’t necessarily feasible for every business and for organizational reasons dropdowns may work for your business. Just be sure to keep things clean and uncluttered. I recommend putting yourself in a visitor’s shoes, maybe someone who knows nothing about your business, and ask yourself if your website functions well for that person. Could your fictional customers and potential customers easily find what they need? Be honest. Be critical. You can also have friends and family explore you site and, of course, I recommend hiring a designer.
5. Resources and Highlights – You can include great freebies, blog posts, customer reviews, or even all of the above, just don’t make things too crowded! Your homepage is a chance for you to display your expertise! Put your best content or customer reviews on display and let people know that you are an expert in your field or how great your products are.
a. I have my freebies and blog posts on my homepage because I want my potential clients to know that I am creating high quality, free content to help educate them about my field. These are a great way for me to share knowledge and display some of my design and layout skills.
Having a strong homepage is an absolute necessity to grab the attention of your potential customers. While there are different ways you can go about putting your homepage together there are certain elements that help to set you apart. Following the recommendations above will set you on the road to a higher rate of conversions for your website traffic! Remember to prioritize and put your best on display, while keeping your website clean and easy-to-use, with beautiful, on-brand imagery.
What elements do you think are essential for a homepage? Does your homepage have all the things discussed in this article?