Homepage, Sweet, Homepage
Posted by: Lizzie Healy
10 seconds. That's all the time you have to make a great first impression when a user visits your website. 10 seconds to let them know who you are, what you're about, how you can make their life better, and why they should keep clicking. It's a tall order for just a few seconds, but is a crucial element to the success of your website and your business. This time is a brief chance for you to connect emotionally with visitors and show them, through a combination of a few critical elements, what you can do for them (without overwhelming them).
Using images or videos on the homepage of a website is the standard for web design, but as with anything else, the quality of these images is ultimately the most important. When choosing an image or video, make sure that it is high quality and up to date. It's 2016, so don't choose a large image of someone holding a landline phone to represent your company (unless you sell landline phones). Avoid cheesy stock photos. Visitors pick up on it immediately if the images don't feel authentic and genuine. They should instead highlight what you offer, and reflect your businesses branding. This image or video is a terrific opportunity for you to convey what you offer without overwhelming your user with text. Take advantage of it.
In 6-12 words, your headline should let the visitor know exactly what your website or business has to offer. The headline is probably the trickiest element of your home page, because it needs to clearly and concisely convey why your business is unique, and why visitors can benefit from being there. It's important to remember that this headline should be about your visitor, not about you. They want to know what you can do for them, not the other way around. This is an easy element to change and update. You don't have to be married to it, so don't hesitate to keep working to make it better and more compelling.
The subheadline, which appears just below your headline but above the fold on your homepage, should compel users to dig deeper. In 1-2 sentences, your subheadline should spark the interest of a reader, showing clear value, and showcasing what you do. They don't have to be there, so don't waste their time. Keep the copy for your subheadline lightweight and easy to read, while positioning yourself as an authority on the topic that they can trust. It's a fine line to walk, and will also require a few tweaks before you hit a home(page) run.
Call to Action
Along with the subheadline, your homepage should include a call to action. When a visitor first clicks on to your homepage, it should be immediately clear what action they should take next. Should they find out more? Should they sign up now? Make their journey through your website as simple as possible, providing an obvious route to the next step they should take. This call to action should be clear, leaving no question as to where it would lead. It should also be compelling. Again, they don't have to be there. Make it worth their while.
Drake said it best, "you know when that hotline bling, that can only mean one thing: more qualified business leads generated." Pretty sure that's how the song goes. In order to connect with these qualified business leads, you need to provide easily accessible and up to date contact information on your home page. If you have a brick and mortar business, make sure you not only provide the address, but include a map so that patrons can easily find your business. In addition to being able to easily find your business, providing contact information adds credibility. People want to work with real people, in a real office, who they can really speak to! Don't make it hard for them to find you.
Your marketing team spent 2 hours' yesterday lining up a keyboard with a notepad and pencil for the perfect flatlay picture (or wait, was that me?). Don't let those hours of effort go to waste. Get social by promoting your social media pages on your homepage. Use icons, and make sure that your links are all working properly. Just like providing accurate contact information, including social media posts and links helps to build trust with potential customers. It's no longer a value added, its an essential.
Keep it short, keep it simple.
Your website's homepage is your first chance to capture a potential customer and show them how you can make their life better with your product or service. With every element, its important to remember that a little can go a long way. Don't overwhelm your visitors with an overload of information and pictures. Every item that you do choose to include, remember: Branding, Branding, Branding. You have worked hard to carefully craft a voice, don't miss the opportunity to show visitors who you are and what you represent.