First impressions count and most people judge a book by its cover. We all know this, which is why your homepage is so important.

For most companies, your homepage is your front door. If it’s not appealing, people keep walking.

According to Google analytics, home pages are also the most visited page of a website and they tend to generate the most conversion. For all of these reasons, it doesn’t pay to underestimate it.

1. Clearly answers “Who I am,” “What I do,” and/or “What can you (the visitor) do here.”

Every homepage has a job. That job is to provide immediate answers to the questions being asked of it by visitors. If it fails to address the reasons people visit this page in the first place, visitors will move on.

MailChimp is a great example of a hard working home page. It states who it is clearly and concisely: MailChimp helps you design email newsletters. It answers, “what I do”, with “easy email newsletters”.

And it answers “what can you (the visitor) do here” with “you can share social networks, integrate with services you already use and track your results.”

Check that your home page has simple answers to these questions:

• Who am I?
• What I do?
• What can you do here?

Mailchimps’ Tagline - Homepage Optimization

Mailchimps’ Tagline

Homepage Design - Clear Message About What You Do

2. Communicate compelling value propositions/unique selling points above the fold

Your home page must clearly clarify the benefit of doing business with you, as opposed to your competitors.

MailChimp does this well. In the crowded email service provider market, MailChimp differentiates itself by focusing on how easy it is to use its services.

This is important to its target audience, who is usually someone who is not particularly technical and probably has a million other things to do on their to-do list for the day. Easy is appealing to these types of people and MailChimp goes to great lengths to ensure this message is clear.

3. Genuinely resonate with your target audience

A home page also needs to ‘talk the talk’. It needs to speak in a language that’s familiar to its audience, avoiding corporate-speak and sales-oriented clichés.

Home Page Resonate With Target Audience - Homepage Design

Image 2: Freshbook’s home page showing a headline that exactly targets its preferred audience

4. Include a main call to action

The best home pages use both primary and secondary calls-to-action to guide visitors to the next logical step in the buying process. For example they might say, “Free Trial” followed by “Schedule a demo”, or “Buy now” followed by “Learn More”.

This strategy is designed to entice visitors to venture more deeply into your sales funnel, carefully holding their hand through each step so they do not get overwhelmed, disinterested or lost.

It turns your home page into an effective lead generation machine and not just a pretty design.

Main call to action above the fold - Homepage Design

Image 3: The main call-to-action button is front and centre

5. The magic of media mentions

Media mentions are a type of social proof. Theyclearly demonstrate that you are publicly accepted and praised by highly authorised sites. Media mentions are a great tool to boost trust and create a good first impression.

The higher authorised and relevant media sites you have mentioned, the better it is for your brand, especially when they refer to key value propositions that you want to build in user minds about your products/services.

Homepage Optimization - Media mentions with excerpts that highlight key selling points

Image 4: example of media mentions with excerpts that highlight key selling points

6. Your products sell better with raving reviews and testimonials

Many things contribute to a “buy now” decision. Social proof, achieved through product reviews, is one of the more important things.

Research shows that “70% of consumers look at product reviews before buying” and “product reviews are twelve times more trusted than product descriptions from manufacturers.” Source: Fastcompany.com

70% of consumers look at product reviews before buying Click To Tweet

Like many companies, Trip Advisors invite its site’s members to write reviews on hotels/resorts they booked. As wells as rating a booking on a five-star scale, members can also share photographs of what their hotel looks like, providing a particularly realistic and convincing element to their review.

To achieve the same level of credibility, ensure your testimonials have the ability to include your testimonial source includes their full name, job title, company name and photo.

Homepage Design - User generated reviews with images

Image 5: User generated reviews with images on Trip Advisors

 

Homepage Design - Testimonials with real photos

Image 6: Freshbook’s specific testimonials

7. Make your main products/services centre-stage

If you have multiple products/services to sell, ensure your main products and services – best sellers, new arrivals, discounted items – are clearly featured first, with an invitation to users to explore further.

This works especially well on e-commerce sites.

e-commerce homepage that features most popular products, product on sales and new arrivals

Image 7: example of ecommerce online wedding accessories website www.affordableweddingaccessories.com.au that features most popular products, product on sales and new arrivals

8. Videos are engaging, tantalising and powerful

Videos are more engaging than images, and they can be very powerful, if done well.

If you have a product/service that needs abit of an explanation, for example, “The process behind getting a business loan approval on trucks, cars and equipment in 1-hour” or perhaps a demonstration of how some software works, having video will boost conversion.

video for home page

Image 8: BusinessFinanceBrokers.net.au “how it works” video on the home page

9. Clear Menu with About Us, Contact Us tabs

In the previous article about “12 Reasons Why I Won’t Buy From Your Website” I mentioned the vital importance of “About Us” and “Contact Us” pages.

You’d be surprised by how many users check your ‘About Us’ page. I used heatmaps to track users’ behaviours on our websites across 10 different industries and found that ‘About Us’ is one of the most visited pages on the website.

The ‘Contact Us’ page ranks almost on the same scale. Even if you run a business from home, your website should have a phone number and email address for users to see and call, or email. Having a simple web form without any basic contact information looks transient and suspicious.

home page heatmap

Image 9: Gordon Vet’s home page heatmaps

If you look carefully at this example, you’ll see the tiny little yellow dots on each of the menu items of the Gordon Vet Hospital website. These are heatmaps that show the most visited option is ‘About Us’ and ‘Our Friendly Staff.’

Users do actually want to know more about you, so showcase what you’ve got. If you have great staff, tell them. If you have high profile clientele, let them know.

Poor example of About Us page

Image 10: Poor example of About Us page

This is a poor example of an ‘About Us’ page. It does not provide any ‘personable’ information. It doesn’t say who they are. It doesn’t say how they operate. If there was a heatmap indicating trust levels, and wouldn’t that be handy, this page would be colourless.

10. Optimise for multi-device usability

In the article about “3 SEO Changes For 2016 and What Businesses Should Do?” I highlighted the importance of mobile usability.

According to eMarketer, 2015 has seen mobile search reach the tipping point – the stage at which the majority of spend, organic traffic and paid clicks comes from smartphones and tablets, rather than the traditional medium of desktop and laptop search.

mobile search changes

Image 11: Increasing search ad spending on mobile over time from 2013 to 2018

The home page should be able to instantly deliver exactly what users are looking for,when they are on mobile – phone number, contact info, value proposition, main services.

But do this with style. No one likes to wade through clutter to find what they are looking for.

On mobile, less is more. Keep it minimal.

11. Update your website with sensational new content

The best homepages aren’t always static. Some of them, like Whitehouse.gov, constantly evolve to reflect the needs and questions of their visitors.

The success of any site to appear welcoming, relies on its ability to look as if there is someone at home. It needs fresh content that has recently been updated, or some sign that it has not been abandoned.

Testing and optimization is a key component to a brilliant homepage web design.

12. Invest in good, professional photography

Generic photographs stand out a mile and they tend to leave a ‘generic’ impression. If you want to stand head and shoulders above your competition, invest in professional photography or in stock photographs that jump out of the page at you or create an emotional connection to the written content.

e-commerce high quality images

Image 12: Research by MDG Advertising has found that 67% of online shoppers rated high quality images as being ‘very important’ to their purchase decision. It ranked higher than ‘product specific information’, ‘long descriptions’ and ‘reviews & ratings’.

Poor quality photographs or photographs that have nothing to do with your message, are worse than having no photographs at all.

Get the full checklist in PDF to learn what to do and don't do on website home pages Click To Tweet

13. Show that there are real and amazing people behind the scene

You can’t go wrong if you design your website according to the 1964 song People, by Barbra Streisand in “Funny Girl”, which says that “people who need people are the luckiest people in the world”.

People like to do business with people, not companies and not websites. Therefore don’t be shy about using images of your employees.

Melbourne Business School (MBS) tripled its media mentions by replacing a generic ‘Contact Us’ email and phone number on its media page, with a photograph and personal mobile phone number of each faculty member. It took six months to get the initiative approved due to privacy concerns, yet once the plunge was taken, no privacy or abuse incidents occurred.

When Marketing Experiments replaced a stock photograph of a call centre girl wearing a headset with the image of the company’s founder, it increased conversions by 35%.

Homepage images

Image 13: Before the change of the image

How to choose images for homepage

Image 14: The replacement image of the popular company founder

Homepage images - show that you have real staff not stock photo

Image 15: Freshbook is very clever with the use of company staff photo on home page, showing the team behind the scene

14. Your design really matters

Good design is essential to build trust, communicate value and guide visitors to the next step. Check out your home page and give it the once over.

Conclusion

The days of passive websites are drawing to a close. The trend now is to get them working proactively. Good design is essential to build trust, communicate value and guide visitors to the next step. It’s the cornerstone of making your website an effective lead capture machine.

Download the simple checklist of dos and don’ts that I’ve put together for you and check out your home page now.

The sooner you start implementing this list, the sooner your business can reap the benefits.

So what are the elements on Home Page that work for you? I’d love to hear more from you, please comment below. I am looking forward to it.

 

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