The 7 Homepage Essentials
When a company sets up shop online, the attention that they give to their homepage will often make or break the success of their virtual enterprise. Not only does your homepage set the tone for your entire website, but more often than not it receives the majority of your incoming traffic. All of us have experienced the frustration of visiting a company’s website, only to find the homepage confusing or difficult to navigate; this can spell disaster for a business in terms of generating leads and converting visitors into sales. In order to maximize each page view that you receive, you will need to be very selective as to which elements you will incorporate into (and exclude from) the design of your homepage. Below are seven essential homepage elements to include in your website design to ensure that your website communicates a clear and effective message.
1. The Headline
When a visitor arrives at your virtual doorstep, how can they tell whether or not they’ve come to the right place? This question should be answered within seconds of their arrival. The main headline of your homepage should be simple, succinct and clearly visible, stating who you are in as few words as possible. Your company branding or logo should be included here, as well as a sub-headline that provides a very brief description of what your company does.
2. Clear Navigation
Once your visitor has been reassured that they’re in the right place, the most common question they’ll ask is “What do I do next?” This is where your navigation menus come into play. Many companies make the novice mistake of placing all of their product or service offerings front-and-center on their homepage along with the general information regarding their company. This can give your homepage a jumbled or cluttered appearance, and it can hinder usability. Your homepage instead should be considered as a “concierge”, directing people to the areas they’re looking for by way of clear and simple navigational menu items. Your navigation menu should be located at the top of the page, easy to find and simple to understand.
3. Introduction (a.k.a. Primary Text)
The introduction should be a brief paragraph (no more than roughly 250-300 words long) that describes what your business is all about, and what you can offer to your visitors. For SEO purposes, make sure to incorporate the main keywords that people might use to find your business into your text, but be careful not to make it sound contrived or unnatural.
4. Secondary Text
Secondary text serves to “flesh out” and reinforce the key concepts that you introduced in your primary text. Your secondary text should also include one or more calls-to-action, such as signing up for an email newsletter, contacting a sales rep by phone, or downloading a free white paper. Incorporate supportive text as well such as customer testimonials, a brief list of your company’s competitive benefits, etc.
5. A Link to Free Resources
The vast majority of your traffic will not be ready to buy on the first visit, so you need to have some type of value proposition in place to help assimilate your visitors into your conversion funnel. To this end, hardly anything is more effective than offering free resources online to increase the “stickiness” of your website. You should have an entire section of your website devoted to offering free resources (i.e., articles, infographics, ebooks, etc.) to your visitors, and your homepage should display a clear and highly visible link to those resources.
6. Images and White Space
Images and white space work hand-in-hand to balance out the visual appeal of your homepage. Include high-quality images that are in alignment with the overall theme of your homepage. As far as white space is concerned, be sure to use it in a way that draws attention to your text by providing a visual “break” for the eyes. People can easily get “reader’s fatigue” when they’re presented with large, dense blocks of text with little white space in between. This can actually increase your bounce rates, as many people are simply not willing to expend a large amount of time or effort just to find out what your site is all about.
7. Your Contact Information
Your business homepage needs to include a section that displays your contact information, including your company email address and phone number. If you also have a brick-and-mortar location, it is absolutely imperative that you include your physical street address. Many businesses put this information in the footer of their homepage, and also on a separate “Contact Us” page as well. The important thing to remember is that you want people to know that you are easily accessible. This also does wonders in terms of increasing the credibility of your business online.
Effective website development will strike a delicate balance between meeting the needs of your visitors while accomplishing the goals of your business at the same time. Using the seven essential homepage elements listed above, you will not come up short in terms of creating a user-friendly homepage that adequately serves your business objectives as well.