The home page is usually the most popular page on your website. But most first-time visitors will spend less than 30 seconds reviewing it. So you don’t have long to convince them to stick around and explore the rest of your content.
A home page has several important jobs. It must communicate who owns the site and what it’s for. It must establish credibility and trust. And, most importantly, it must convince visitors not to leave the site.
Here are five tips for creating an effective home page that sets the scene for first-time visitors:
1. Welcome visitors with a positioning statement
Your home page is your introduction to first-time visitors. And usually the first thing they want to know is, “What do you do?” So don’t make them guess. The opening paragraph of your website should give a concise description of what you do and who you do it for.
But whatever you do, don’t actually write “Welcome to…” These cheerful salutations are old hat and a waste of valuable space. A prominent statement of who you are and why people should do business with you will work much better.
2. Emphasise priority content with feature links
Your home page should not be a site map giving equal emphasis to all content. It’s more like a magazine cover that draws readers in with enticing cover lines highlighting the best stories inside.
The 80/20 rule applies to website content. This means the majority of visitors will only visit a few key pages of your site (e.g. pages about your best selling products). These are the pages you should emphasise on the home page.
Feature links are like signposts to your best content. Their job is to present a compelling summary of the most interesting and important content that makes the reader want to click for more. They communicate the essence of what’s on offer and provide visitors quick access to what they need.
There are three ways to determine what your most interesting and important content is:
- Use web analytics data to see which pages are most popular
- Review sales figures to establish your best-selling products, and
- Editorially select the best pages.
One-line short cut links to your site’s most popular content are also helpful on the home page.
3, Minimise options
Often many interests compete for space on the home page (especially in bigger companies). This can lead to bloated pages with an array of buttons, banners, links and other tid bits scattered about.
But too many options confuse readers. They can’t decide where to click. A good home page usually contains only a few visually prominent feature links to the most important content.
Anything with a prominent home page link is guaranteed to get more traffic. But you dilute this effect with every additional link. So remove any information that doesn’t need to be on the home page and restrict feature links to the most important content.
You also should keep your home page as short as possible to minimise scrolling. Only 50% of readers will scroll below the first screen.
4. Tell them what’s new
A latest news section on your home page gives your site a sign of life. It can include links to new products, your latest article or case study, a favourable media mention, or your new downloadable special report or white paper.
This is also a good place to highlight special promotions and sales. A news section doesn’t have to be long. A couple of descriptive sentences with links to more information is adequate.
5. Group company information
Group links to company information – such as media releases, job vacancies, stock prices, mission statement, about us, etc. – in one small section.