Just How Important is Your Website Homepage?

just_how_important_is_your_website_homepageEver since the inception of the World Wide Web, the homepage has been considered to be the most important element of a website, but recent shifts in user behavior have begun to challenge that notion like never before.

It’s now quite common for visitors to arrive on a website by way of direct links that are targeted to specific landing pages of a site rather than the homepage itself. These links are shared via social media sites, search engine results pages, email links, blog posts, referral links, online newsletters and so forth. This practice is becoming more and more common by the day, prompting many companies to reevaluate the role of the homepage altogether.

So, in light of these new developments, what should be on your homepage? Below are some key points to help you ensure that your homepage will adequately serve its purpose, even as the tide of user behavior continues to turn. 

1. Keep it simple.

A cluttered homepage can be visually confusing, which can diminish the quality of the user experience. Most visitors want a clear and quick path to what they’re looking for, which means avoiding adding too many elements (e.g., text, images, videos or widgets) to your homepage.

This will require you to discern between what is nice for your visitors to know, versus what they actually need to know. Pare down your home page and keep only the elements that will best serve the needs of your visitors, focusing on what will offer relevant information and guidance.

2. Focus on the visitor’s needs and interests.

As awesome as your company may be (and it is indeed awesome), most of your visitors are only interested in the details of your company to the extent that it can help them. This isn’t always a bad thing–in fact, it’s a necessary thing if you want to continue staying in business!

Simply put, your company exists to solve some type of problem for your target buyer. Your job is to customize the content of your home page in a way that will show visitors how your product or service can address their pain points, meet their needs or improve their lives in some kind of way. Make the content of your home page all about your customer, not you, and save your company-focused content for subsequent pages.

3. Customize your site navigation to be customer-centric.

Chances are the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy pages for most websites are far from a thrilling read, so it would be best to keep any links pointing to those types of pages apart from the main navigational menu. Take some time to think about which pages your target buyers would be the most interested in (your website analytics can really help here), and customize your navigational menu to highlight those pages first.

When it comes to optimizing your home page, you always want to strengthen the elements that perform well, while reducing any emphasis on elements that really don’t add anything significant to the user experience. Focus on the navigational aids that direct users to the areas of your website that cater to their specific needs.

4. Carefully select your supporting images.

People tend to be more responsive to images than text. Make sure to use images that can draw a clear connection between what your customers need and what you have to offer. Be judicious in terms of the number of images you choose to use in order to avoid overkill; narrow your selection down to just a couple of main images that tie in well with your introductory text. And whatever you do, avoid using stock images at all costs. Nothing screams “We just didn’t feel like trying” more than generic stock images.

While the homepage may not hold as high of a position in the hierarchy of importance than it has in times past, this doesn’t mean that you should write it off as inconsequential. Maximize the effectiveness of your homepage by putting the above tips into practice, and you will position your website to garner more leads and achieve higher conversion rates.

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