Your homepage is like a shop window. It should give the consumer an idea of what the business does, who’s running the business, and at least a hint of the products and services it offers, whether those are actual items for sale, information, or entertainment.
Just like a shop window, homepage designs can either entice people to look deeper, or they can fail to capture a visitor’s attention (or worse, actively drive them away). Clearly conveying your brand’s story is one method you can use to keep people on the site and engaged enough to explore beyond the homepage.
What Is the Goal of a Homepage?
A landing page’s goal is to convert visitors, while a homepage’s goal is to engage visitors with the brand and offer solutions to their problems. If done effectively, a homepage visitor can turn into a customer -potentially a repeat customer.
Homepages have improved quickly over the last few decades thanks to analytics and the marketing and design teams who have made performance improvements based on that data.
Back in 1993, when only 600 websites existed, the only method to measure the traffic of a website was a server log that counted the number of visitors. Next came hit counters, and then eventually more comprehensive analytics suites that gave insight into things like unique visitors, page views, and bounce rates.
Using that analytics data, you are able to optimise the call to action placement, improve site speed, A/B test, use videos to engage visitors, use high-quality images to captivate people’s attention, and include messaging tools to improve the performance of a homepage. However, will this guarantee loyalty and trust from consumers?
Three Common Pitfalls When Designing Your Homepage
Businesses – and by extension designers – run into three main pitfalls when creating a homepage:
- They don’t focus on the important stuff. They tell people all about the characteristics of their service or product. People don’t care about this. They want to know that the business will solve their problem and improve their life.
- Businesses don’t communicate their message clearly. As Tony Haile of Chartbeat says, a website has less than 15 seconds to capture a visitor’s attention.
- They have a bad product which does not solve anyone’s problem. There’s not much you can do if this is the case.
How to Use Your Homepage
A homepage should never be about the business. It should be about its potential customer.
Like on a first date, impressions are important and the goal is to generate interest. You have to be strategic in what content is included and how it’s arranged. Following our guide will help you ensure the right messages are put in the right places.
Although it may sound simplistic, there are only five important elements to bear in mind when designing your homepage.
Headlines, sometimes used in combination with an engaging image, are placed at the top of a homepage. In almost every case, headlines should be customer-centric and show the visitor that the brand has something that benefits them. Headlines should either:
- Communicate the benefits to the customer
- Identify a problem the visitor has and reassure them that the brand can solve it for them
- Describe what the business does in a clear and concise way
Create Trust by Showing Authority
It is imperative to position the business as the guide and the solution to the customer’s problem. You who master the art of creating trust will have an easier time convincing people that this particular brand is the right solution to their problems. They can do this by:
- Including testimonials from important customers who recommend the brand
- Displaying the logos of companies the brand has worked with
- Showing specific data around the number of users, transactions, etc.
- Featuring awards and accolades, published works, media appearances, and similar accomplishments
- Showing images of the team or the company’s headquarters
Call to Action
Creating an emotional connection with homepage visitors is the first step in converting them to customers. Once that emotional connection is made, it’s up to the call to action to seal the deal.
There are two kinds of calls to action:
- Direct calls to action are for people who know they’re ready to buy or sign up, and include language like “Buy,” “Sign up,” or “Get started.” Clicking on these CTAs will take the buyer directly to a form to complete their transaction.
- Transitional calls to action are for visitors who aren’t quite ready to purchase yet. They may need more time and information before they commit. These come in the form of “More info,” “Try for free,” or “Get in touch” types of buttons.
Some calls to action may combine the two, or put them side by side (often seen as a pair of “Buy Now” and “Learn More” buttons).
Regardless of how serious the content of a homepage is, the content should always offer a happy ending. When selecting images, keep in mind that some of them should give that “happily-ever-after” feeling.
Images appeal to the emotions of visitors, particularly images of happy people. Showing photos of happy people helps people imagine what their own happy ending might be like if they make the purchase.
The less text, the better. Many consumers won’t read long blocks of text, so it’s best to convey the brand message in as few words as possible.
You should share your story in the simplest way.
Answer Key Questions
A successful homepage will be able to capture visitor interest in less than five seconds. From there, it will have about 15 seconds to answer the three questions people ask themselves (often subconsciously) when visiting a homepage:
- What do they do?
- How can they help me?
- What do I have to do to buy or engage?
Create a homepage that immediately captures interest and answers those questions effectively offers a clear path for success for the brand.