When you visit a website, what’s the first thing you see? The homepage.
Your homepage might be the first interaction a potential customer has with you, before you’ve even met or spoken on the phone. Think of your homepage as the reception area of your office. Every time a person lands on your homepage they are forming an opinion of you and deciding whether they want to find out more about what you do and if you fit the criteria of what they’re looking for.
Research shows that most visitor traffic drops off after landing on the homepage, and visitors spend a maximum of 8 seconds on the homepage before they decide to leave (bounce) or click on and stay on your site. If your website only has 8 seconds to make an impression, you need to make sure it’s the right one.
If you didn’t know it already, your homepage is probably the most important page on your website. The exact messaging and content you should have on your homepage varies depending on what you do as a business, but there are key elements that every homepage should have…
First things first, establish your goals
What do you want your website to do, what is the primary objective? For example:
- Sales – Do you want to sell products through your website? Do you need an ecommerce site?
- Marketing – Do you want to promote your business and generate leads through website? Do you need to offer added value and encourage visitors to take an action?
- Customer Support – Is your website a tool for customer service and support? Will your website need to incorporate a forum, built in messaging, or a call back service?
So now that you have a goal, how is your website going to help you achieve that goal? Remember, key focus should be on the homepage, as that is where majority of your website traffic is going. Whatever the goal, you need to address it on your homepage and guide the visitor through the customer journey.
What are the 10 essentials for your homepage?
As well as defining your overall goals, it is essential that every website:
1. Clearly defines what you do and who you do it for – your value proposition
Your header should be prominent on the homepage – within 3 seconds, a visitor should know exactly what you do and who you are targeting. Your heading is one of the most important pieces of copy on your website. You won’t be able to target everyone, so make sure you focus on your ideal customer and target audience. Keep it short and to the point and make sure you use plain English. Check out this website for tips on how to use plain English in your messaging.
Once visitors know what you do, you need to tell them how you do it differently from your competition. What makes you unique? If you don’t outline how you do things differently, they are likely to start looking at your competitors to see if they do outline the differences. Differentiating yourself helps the visitor make an informed decision.
2. Puts benefits first
This is part of your value proposition. It’s what differentiates your business from your competitors in terms of your services and products, and benefits the customer gets from using them. Keep the copy short, punchy, easy to read, and in a language your customers understand. For example, if you are a comparison website, benefit statements should include “Saving you money and time” or “Cut the cost of your bills and get the most out of your money”.
Visitors want to know what benefit they are going to get for using this service/product. The benefit should be compelling enough to drive them contact you, or encourage them to stay on your site longer and find out more about what you do.
3. Is tailored to the customer journey
Digital Glue’s Web Developer Ben Goodman says:
“Creating a website homepage that is tailored to your user journeys will increase your conversion rate. If your service offering is a complex offering, creating multiple journeys will allow your users to filter themselves through the right one for them.
Providing users a simple path through your user journey, with clear calls to action, ample whitespace, and a content-first approach to page layout, will provide your users with all of the information they require to determine the best user journey for them.
This results in an exit page that is highly relevant to your users, reducing your overall website bounce rate.”
4. Has compelling call to actions
If you want people to take an action on your website, it needs to be visible. Keep your call to actions ‘above the fold’ – which is the portion of the screen you see immediately, without having to scroll down further. Make your call to actions are buttons rather than just text, as buttons increase clicks and conversions by at least 10%. It’s far more compelling to click on a button than a word, especially if you’re on a mobile.
Keep your call to actions simple and clear, but don’t just say ‘find out more’ or ‘read more’ – these are too generic and doesn’t inspire action. Also, remember to include 2-3 call to actions on your homepage to give the visitor multiple opportunities to act. For more tips on how to write call to actions that work, check out one of our previous blogs.
5. Makes social media platforms visible and easy to access
Social media is now a key part of any business’ marketing strategy as it allows you to interact and engage with your customers in an informal manner. Social media is increasingly driving more traffic to websites and is used as a method to find businesses online. According to a report by HubSpot, more than 73% of consumers expect a business to be on social media and are more likely to respond to business who engages with them online.
People also check social channels to see if you’re trustworthy. Plus, if they’re visiting your social media platforms, they are more likely to follow you and engage with you directly, so make sure they are visible at the top of your homepage and at the bottom.
6. Has a clearly defined menu and navigation
Your menu and navigation must be distinct and consistent throughout the site to make it easier for the visitor to find what they need. Your key services or products need to be in the menu and be obvious. Try to keep your menu under 7 items and put the most important items at the beginning and the end.
When building your menu, always think of mobile. Mobile responsiveness is essential. With far less screen space available, it is important to use the space you do have wisely. Include a function to hide the menu when it isn’t needed so you can focus on the messaging on the page.
7. Has captivating imagery and/or video that supports what you do
Make sure your homepage includes captivating images, that reflect what you do and are right for your audience. When choosing imagery for your business, think about how you’re trying to make the audience feel and how you want to convey your business. Consider different imagery options – you could commission a photographer, use stock images, or even take pictures yourself (as long as the outcome is right for your audience).
Include video content on your site if you can. A quick introductory video is one of the easiest ways to engage a visitor, especially one that is new to your business.
8. Makes contact information visible
Visitors should be able to easily find your contact information on your homepage. It should include your phone number, email address, and mailing address, giving the visitor every option available to contact you. Having this information prominently displayed and readily available not only reassures people that they can speak to you if they want, but it also adds credibility and is a signal of trust. It shows that you are a genuine company.
9. Features client testimonials
Testimonials from your clients creates trust. If you are asking customers to take action, be sure to surround them with compelling reasons and safety nets. Peer reviews are trusted by 9o% of consumers. If your company has positive reviews, include them on your homepage and let customers know that you have evidence of your success. If you don’t have any reviews, a great place to start is by encouraging your existing customers to review you on Google, TripAdvisor or Trustpilot. You could even send out surveys on Survey Monkey to help you gain data.
10. Shout out about awards, accreditations, affiliations
Awards and affiliations with other businesses boosts your credibility, demonstrates your ability, and supports your expertise. Promote your achievements as they are a form of recognition of the quality of your products/services and the reputation of your business. They help build your reputation as a trusted business and can also open up opportunities for more potential clients. If you have awards and accreditations, make sure they are proudly displayed on your homepage.
These are just some of the essential items your homepage needs in order to convert more visitors to customers, and stop people dropping off your website.