During most website design projects, we typically have long and detailed discussions with our Clients about their new home page and what information they want to add to it.
These discussions usually center around the fact that the Client wants to add a myriad of different sections to their home page to give the impression that their website is jam-packed with interesting stuff. Whilst this is well-intentioned, this is not the point of your website home page.
Your home page should be thought of like a shop window; it’s job is to entice people into your ‘store’ and that’s where they’ll buy your products or services. Nobody has ever bought something whilst standing outside of a shop and the same is true of a website home page.
So in this article we’ll explain precisely what the job of your home page is.
If you’d like to view how an idea home page should be set-up, we’ve compiled a couple of PDF examples you can view…
The 5-Second Rule – Validation & Navigation
Research tells us that when somebody lands on your website home page, they typically won’t invest more than 5 seconds in determining if your website will provide the solution that they’re looking for (validation). And also within those 5 seconds, you have to make it patently obvious what the visitor needs to do next (navigation).
What is Validation?
Most of the searches we all make on the web are based-upon finding a solution of some kind. We want to find somebody locally to mow our lawn. We want to find the nearest place to grab a Cappuccino. We want to buy some Red-striped socks, etc, etc.
So within the validation part of our home page, we need to ensure that we’re creating a solution that directly and concisely addresses the needs of the people we want to sell to. Think about how this works when you are looking for something online – when you land on a website, are you there to find a solution or are you interested in reading their Tweets, or reading a long spiel about how wonderful their business is?
The vast majority of us don’t care about anything else other than addressing our own needs and therefore, that’s the job of your website home page – to validate that the visitor is definitely in the right place to find a solution.
What is Navigation?
Another assumption is that your website visitors will spend time digging through your navigation links at the top of the screen – they won’t. Remember we have 5 seconds to get them to do something so why make it difficult?
What we need our home page to do is deliver a clear path through to the information they’re looking for. And this is typically done with a concise instruction (a CTA – call to action) that ties-in with the users commercial needs. Some examples of CTA’s could be…
- Lawn in Need of a Mow? Click Here…
- Looking for Red-striped socks? Click Here…
- Need a Coffee? Click Here…
In all three examples, we’ve directly addressed the commercial needs of our visitors and given them concise instructions on what they need to do (click here). There is nothing for the visitor to think about and no ambiguity about what your business does.
Beware of Distractions
To use our analogy of a shop window again, if you look at shops who employ professional Window Dressers, their displays only focus on displaying the best of what they sell. Whether it be a clothing retailer or a phone shop, the window is never crammed with scores of products; just the ones that are most eye-catching or likely to entice customer into the store.
The same methodology should be applied to your website home page. Whether you like it or not, the simple fact is that virtually every one of your website visitors will spend no more than a few seconds on your home page. So why would you waste those precious seconds on anything other than explaining to your visitors the core benefits of what your business can do for them?
With that in mind, none of the following elements we frequently see on a website home page will help to deliver that message…
Image Scrollers – typically a number of large images that rotate at the top of the home page. These are distracting, significantly slow-down the page load speed and above all, fail to deliver a concise, single message. These scrollers are also a nightmare to view on a mobile device, and those devices account for 60% of UK web browsing.
Facebook or Twitter Feeds – do you think your customers came to your website to read your Tweets or latest Facebook status? And if a visitor does click one of your messages, they’ll be taken to Facebook or Twitter from where they’re likely not to return once they’re distracted by a new friend request, a status update, a private message, etc.
Indulgent Copy – you can’t ‘sell’ your business on your home page so why try? Assuming the home page is the first page your visitor lands, their initial focus will be on solving THEIR problem. They don’t really care about your “Excellent Customer Service” or who else you sell to. They might investigate those elements AFTER they’ve established that you can firstly deliver a solution that fits their needs.
But What About Ranking in Google?
Google places a high value on the content of a web page so if a page has very little text, it won’t rank very well for competitive phrases. However, no company EVER sells anything the moment a visitor lands on the home page so from an SEO perspective, ranking in Google for a competitive term shouldn’t be a consideration – that’s the job of the other pages of your website.
The one thing your website home page should rank for is your business or brand name and that’s not too tricky if your home page SEO is done properly.
An example of how this works in the real world is our own website. We offer a number of different services so it would be impossible for our home page to rank for them all so we only want it to rank for our brand name. So if you Google ‘Avara Web Marketing’, you’ll find our website at the #1 position.
Now if you happen to be looking for a Website Designer in Farnham and Google ‘Website designer in Farnham’ you’ll see (at the time of writing) that an internal page of our website sits at the #1 position.
It doesn’t matter how much time, effort or money you invest in your website design if it doesn’t do a job from a marketing perspective. And if your website is your most powerful marketing tool, it stands to reason that the home page should be the absolute pinnacle of marketing perfection.
Remember that it’s sole job is to provide validation and navigation – it’s certainly isn’t a place to cramb all of your website content into. As consumers, very few of us care about anything other than solving our own problems so if your website does exactly that, there is very little reason why people won’t engage with your website and buy from you.
If you need more information or advice on this subject or any aspect of marketing your business online, feel free to contact us or give us a call on 01252 416 222.