Your homepage is your brand's welcome mat on the web. People will stop there before crossing the threshold to your website content. They'll form an impression about who you are, how welcome they are, and how you treat your guests. A winning homepage is one that does a great job with all of those things.
Think about the welcome mats of your friends & relatives. There's your festive aunt who has a personalized mat for each holiday, the dog lover with "Wipe Your Paws" out front, and the sibling who sorely needs to replace their threadbare mat (it's so useless, you don't bother wiping your shoes on it!)
What does your welcome mat - your website homepage - say about your business? (Pro tip: Be like your aunt!) How do you invite people in? Do you send the right message, drive users deeper into the site, and help qualified visitors do business with you?
That's what a winning homepage does. Let's talk about how to make one.
1. Pop Quiz, Hotshot: In 30 Seconds or Less, What Are You?
From the instant a visitor lands on your home page, they work to figure out if they're in the right place. You need clear statements about who you are, what you do, and why a visitor should care. The goal is to help qualified visitors stay on the site and move towards an objective, and to help unqualified visitors hit the "back" button.
What I'm saying here isn't new and isn't different from how newspapers have been drawing in readers for years. For years, visitors have been wanting instant answers from homepages - Neilsen Norman Group supported this when suggesting a website's homepage use a One-Sentence Tagline back in 2002!
Here are a few websites where you can know what they're about in 30 seconds or less:
"Inbound marketing is complicated. Moz’s software makes it easy."
"Create Surveys, Get Answers."
"Design T-shirts Online"
2. Make It Embarrassingly Easy to Get Around
Every website has two goals to achieve - your goals and your user's goals (and hopefully those are aligned!) You must know your users goals, then design these areas to help them get what they came for:
- Make menus easy to locate, easy to read, clearly worded, and don't use too many menu items.
- Use sections below the header to highlight specific topics and give calls-to-action.
- Have an easy-to-find search bar and easy-to-read, accurate search results.
- Don't forget to consider all of the devices they might be using to complete a task on your site!
3. Show Them A Company They Can Trust
You know you are an ethical company and your customers know they can trust you, but new visitors don't unless you give them a reason. Inc.com's Jayson Demers sums it up in 11 Simple Tactics to Increase Trust Online: "People do business with those that they like, know, and trust."
New visitors use a variety of signals to tell if you're trustworthy, including:
- Well-known symbols like the BBB or Norton logos
- A lock symbol in the address bar (or an https:// in your domain name indicating an SSL is used on your website)
- Testimonials from other clients or a list of clients with logos
- Social links to your other profiles and pages
Now you're on your way to a winning homepage that helps the right visitors get things done on your website. What other ways are you going to achieve your website goals in 2015?