9 Key Elements of an Effective Homepage
The homepage of your website is not only the first page users visit – it’s also the first impression of yourself or your company that they experience. It needs to have a lot of key elements in order to convince a user to stay on your website, and more importantly, to investigate further. Want users to learn more about your company and eventually convert into customers? An effective homepage is a great place to start.
№ 1 – A Great Opening Line
Combined with the “above the fold” elements that a user first sees, your opening line needs to tell them what you’re about very quickly – in about three seconds. If users have to scroll down or leave the homepage to understand what you do or what your message is, you’re likely to lose them.
№ 2 – Obvious, Consistent Branding
Your website design should definitely reflect your mission, but it should also be consistent with your branding. Use the color palette you use in your logo and other marketing, perhaps even the font for headings. Make sure that, at a glance, users can tell the website (and other digital marketing properties) belongs to your company.
№ 3 – Clean, Concise Navigation
Your navigation should fit the industry you’re in, but it should also be concise and easy to understand. A car dealership, for example, wouldn’t put “Used 2014 Subaru Legacy” in their top navigation – that would more likely be filed under Inventory > Used > Search Used Cars. The top nav Inventory link might also include New and Pre-Owned underneath it. When you have a lot of information, it’s extra important to have organized navigation and page structures.
№ 4 – An Enticing Offer
You’ve got eyeballs looking at your website – now what? Give the people (your current and future customers) what they want! Whether it’s a sale, a promotion, new project photos or a great blog, feature it on your homepage. Give them a reason to stick around and click around.
№ 5 – High Quality Related Imagery / Video (no overused stock)
A lot of websites have large pictures (also called hero images ) at the top of their homepage, with lots of other imagery speckled throughout the site. Do not (we repeat – do not) just throw any old stock image in there. We’ve all seen “Dude on his landline at his desk” and “Lady laughing with out-of-focus coworkers at conference room table.” The images or videos you use should be directly related to your industry, preferably your company specifically. This is a great thing to spend extra marketing moolah on – your own set of stock photos you can use on your website and in marketing materials.
Also worth noting: make sure you have permission to use any images on your website for commercial use.
№ 6 – Clear Call(s) to Action
Now that your user knows who you are, what you do, and what kind of stuff you’ve got to offer, make sure they know what you want them to accomplish. Clear Calls-to-Action (or CTAs) are important to get your users to engage – an example of a CTA might be “Sign up for our newsletter” or “Click here to learn more about our latest products!” For the most part, a user will drive themselves, but if you don’t ask them to take specific actions, they may never do it.
№ 7 – Engaging Content
This is more important than you think. If the headlines, small paragraphs, and help text on your homepage are boring and full of industry jargon that Joe Consumer won’t understand, you’re going to lose people. You’ve got to make sure your content is engaging and enticing on the homepage, and throughout your whole site, really. Not sure if your content fits the bill? Have a friend who knows little-to-nothing about your business read it. Do they understand? Are they intrigued? Do they want to know more? Did they want to click deeper?
№ 8 – Social Proof
Peer recommendations and word of mouth are two of the most powerful ways to market something. As such, testimonials (with names and photos if available!) provide proof to your users that you’re a great company, you know what you’re doing, and you can totally help.* Social networks can help here under the right circumstances too – are people talking about you on Twitter or Instagram in a positive light? A social feed might be a great addition to your homepage, then.
*Do not fake testimonials. It’s just shady.
№ 9 – Social Media and/or Contact Information
Commonly available in the top bar and the site footer, make sure users have a quick way to contact you. Don’t make your users hunt for one of the most common reasons they’ll visit your website. And don’t forget to make whatever social media accounts you have prominent as well – some users are more comfortable contacting a company via Facebook or Twitter if they’re having an issue.
There are a lot of things that go into making a great website, but your homepage is both a first and a lasting impression. Make sure it’s up to par.