We talk to a lot of people about websites—I mean, it’s what we do—and one trend that stands out to us is that many of our clients and potential clients have a lot of misconceptions about what makes for a good homepage. Many people believe a website homepage should be a simple, one- or two-section landing page with a navigation bar. We understand the desire for something like that (who doesn’t like simple?), but we tend to lead them in a different direction.
The fact is, your website’s homepage is often the first impression a prospective customer has of your business. A good homepage answers the questions your visitors are most likely to be asking: who you are, what you offer, and how they can engage with you. It’ll use eye catching visuals to tell your story, it will have a good amount of useful content for SEO, and it should hold the attention of visitors until they get to what they need. A good homepage doesn’t just focus on content or design or functionality singularly, but all of those things together.
What does that look like exactly? Let’s dig a little deeper.
1. Define the Basics
When we start on a new website project, we always begin with the most important questions. We first build the content around those answers, and then we move onto the design. So before ever writing a single word of content, you need to ask important questions that define the basics.
For example: Who is your audience? What are the main concepts you’re trying to communicate? What do you have to offer? What makes you different from your competition? What do you want visitors to do once they’re on your website?
Once you answer these questions, you’re on your way!
2. Prioritize Your Content Properly
After you ask the important questions, answer them in the different sections of your homepage. The content of your homepage serves a few important purposes. First, your homepage should introduce your service or product, answer the most important questions about your company and what you have to offer, and entice users to click further into the site.
Along the same lines, you should always format sections of the homepage so visitors will find and engage with the most important information first. It’s helpful to share the most pertinent content on the homepage because it saves users from potentially getting lost or disinterested before finding what they need. For example, the most important part of your homepage is what we call the “hero” section. It’s always first and it always has a header that answers the who, what, and where questions.
The secondary purpose for homepage content is SEO. The more information you share about what you do on the homepage, the more searchable your website is. You don’t have to input a book’s worth of content on your homepage (and you shouldn’t), but make sure you’re describing enough about your business so that search engines can get an idea of where to place you in their rankings.
3. Make Your Homepage Work For You
Your homepage should decrease your workload. Okay, now we have your attention. Yes, a decreased workload really is possible! But how?
You can position your homepage in such a way that it does a lot of the hard work for you. If your homepage answers questions that your customers normally ask in a clear and concise way, you save time by avoiding back-to-back-to-back phone calls and emails. Your prospective customers will be better informed when they contact you, and you’ll be able to better focus on running your business.
4. Use Clear Calls to Action
In our first step we asked what you ultimately want your visitors to do after reaching your site. Do you want them to email you? Fill out a form? Call you? Once you answer this, visually highlight the most important calls-to-action. One way to do this is to use eye-catching colors with enough contrast to help primary buttons stand out—and place them in prominent locations where users can’t miss them. It’s important to make the path to this action very clear using obvious, clickable buttons for a smooth user flow.
P.S. User flow is the path a user takes from landing on your site to the action you desire they make. It’s best to make this path as simple and obvious as possible. Need more info on the subject? Check out our blog on how to build a strong user flow!
5. Choose Eye Catching Visuals
We’ve covered how your calls-to-action need to stand out, but let’s talk about the page as a whole. Your entire homepage should be highly visual and catch the attention of consumers. A great way to do this is through professional and personal photography. If you have the budget, always say no to stock.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, a few other ways to utilize visuals other than photography are by using illustrations, videography, and other fun graphic elements. We spoke a lot about current design trends in a recent blog; if you’d like to get some good ideas in this area, go check it out!
6. Think About the Next Step First
We’ve talked about content and design, now let’s talk about how they can beautifully come together to make your homepage the complete package.
A great way to get your users to keep scrolling down the page to see all of the information you’d like them to know—and to get to that important call-to-action—is by pulling their eye from one content section to the next through your design. You want to be one step ahead of your viewer, thinking about how you’re going to invite them to continue their journey down the page from one section to the next.
There are a couple ways to do this, whether it be elements that overlap two sections or a fun button to the side that scrolls them down the page.
A good homepage is the best first impression you can give people of your business. Think of your homepage as your modern day storefront. The more visually appealing and eye-catching it is, the more it will cause visitors to pause and really look into what you’re offering.
If you know who you are, what you have to offer, what sets you apart, and who you’re going after, you’re on the way to building a great homepage. And as always, if these questions feel overwhelming, or if you just simply don’t know the answers and you’d like someone to hash it all out with, we’d love to do that with you.