If you’re thinking about creating a business website or redesigning an existing site, what are the main things you should be focusing your efforts on? Well, we think the main focus should definitely be on the home page, after all it’s you gateway to the world. It tells everyone who visits what you do and why you’re better at it than anyone else.
So because of that it’s vitally important that you think carefully about what you put on this page. It might be a cliché, but you never get a second chance to make a first impression. You have only one chance to get it right, so it’s important you take it. If you miscalculate with a homepage or put things on there that distract or detract from your principal business goals, then you are on a very slippery path indeed. Bad homepage design can affect website metrics profoundly: it can affect bounce rates, time spent on site and click throughs.
What should you include on the homepage?
Rather than asking yourself what should I include on my homepage, we think what you should be thinking about is what you should avoid on the homepage. Here’s our take on some of the design faux pas that are best avoided.
Splash Pages irritate readers
If people log on to a homepage, a homepage is what they expect to see. They definitely don’t want to see a splash page, or prequel to the main event. All you’re doing is introducing another unnecessary step in the customer’s journey, and they won’t thank you for that. You don’t need a splash page to gather information about the customer: you can get that with the homepage. Once you establish what they want, then include all the necessary calls to action here and move them on to the right part of the website.
Make the intention of your homepage clear
When people visit websites, businesses have a very short time frame to make an impression. This so-called ‘blink rate’ lasts for between 3 to 5 seconds – so you really don’t have long to capture a reader’s attention. As time is so precious, therefore, you really have to make it count. You have to be able to convey your message about who you are and what you do succinctly and quickly. Once you’ve worked out your message and what added value your business can give to the customer, display this information prominently. If you don’t do this, they’ll find another site that does.
With homepages, less can really be more
Thankfully the days of homepages crammed with blocks of text in every conceivable place are well behind us. People these days prefer sites without unnecessary clutter and superfluous images. Unnecessary information simply confuses potential customers, so keep it simple and exclude everything that doesn’t serve a purpose. When you do this it becomes much easier for the visitor to pick up on what you want them to do next.
Avoid images and photographs that are irrelevant and have no bearing on your business
If you’re going to include photos and images on your homepage, it’s imperative that’s these are relevant. Nobody wants to see generic images: they don’t tell potential customers what you do or give a visual clue about what you stand for. Images can be very powerful and persuasive: they can help to humanise a brand or explain a process better than words alone. The thing is though they’ve got to be the right images to produce the right results.
Navigation, navigation; navigation – that’s what you need
When most people log on to a site they have clear expectations of what a website should look like, and they also have some idea how they will probably have to interact with it. One of the principal expectations is navigation. They expect to be presented with clear indications of where they’ll need to go if they want to find out more about your products, your company or where they can gain access to any extra resources that are available. If there is no navigation, or poor navigation, then potential customers will very quickly jump ship. They might even do before the blink test has passed. So make sure that site navigation is clear and simple. Some prefer it at the top of the every site page: some prefer it at the bottom. Whatever option you choose, make sure you give viewers clear and simple signposts where to go to next to continue their journey.