When we begin projects with new clients, whether we’re redesigning their current websites or creating their very first, there’s always a lot of discussion around the homepage.
For most clients, that discussion can be boiled down to answering two main questions:
1. What should be on my homepage?
2. What should not?
While the questions themselves sound easy, answering them can often be challenging.
As a business owner, there are so many things about your business you want visitors coming to your site to know about right away. You’re excited about what you offer, and you don’t want people to have to dig around to find the info they need when you can just give it to them right upfront! Right??
Well, maybe not.
As we tell our clients, the key to a great homepage isn’t in telling your visitors what you want them to know…
…it’s in providing the information they want (and need) to read.The key to a great homepage isn’t in telling your visitors what you want them to know, it’s in providing the information they want (and need) to read. Find out more: Click To Tweet
It’s also about providing a solid first impression about your business, one that’s intriguing enough to make them want to explore further into your website.
It can be helpful to think of your website as a house—your internet home, if you will.
Your homepage is the door to your home.
Just like when a new friend comes to your (actual) house for the first time, you want your homepage to act in the same way you would.
Being the fantastic host we know you are, you’d open the door with a smile. You’d welcome your new friend in. You’d ask them about themselves and make them feel comfortable opening up to you and talking about their life.
In other words, you’d begin to build the relationship slowly, not putting any pressure on things to unfold too quickly or overloading them with a ton of information about yourself.
It’d be all about them.
That’s truly the sign of a great host—and as luck would have it, it’s also the sign of a great homepage!
So, keeping that analogy in mind, as well as remembering that as a gracious host your visitor’s needs are priority #1, use that as the basis for what to keep and cut from your homepage.
Here are some other tips to consider:
→ Make your visitor feel at home from the minute they arrive on your site.
No one likes to step into a new environment and find it cluttered and confusing. Your homepage is no different. Make sure your design is clean, organized, and inviting to the eye. The headline should stand out prominently and clearly state what it is that you or your business offers your visitor (ie: potential client). This helps to orient them quickly and let them know they’ve come to the right place.
→ Craft copy that connects with your reader.
It’s tempting to feel like your homepage should tell everything you possibly can about your business, but the #1 goal of the page (especially the top half of the page) should be to connect with your reader. Craft copy that calls out to your reader’s needs or pain points. Make it obvious that you know what they’re struggling with. Help them feel that you understand them.
Get to know your reader first before swooping in to offer your solution. If you don’t know what your visitor’s biggest needs are, do some research to find out. Interview past or present clients, or search forums or other groups online. The effort will be worth it, because once people see that you get them, they’re way more apt to stick around.
→ Ask your visitor to do one or two things ONLY.
A common pitfall on many homepages is what we like to call “verbal vomit.” Not only do people talk about themselves and how they can help too much, but they ask the reader to do too many things (visit this page, learn more here, submit your name and email, fill out this form, read more). Always remember the paradox of choice. The more options you offer, the less likely someone is to do what you want them to do, so pick the one or two main actions you really want your visitor to take and make it crystal clear how they can take that action.
→ Show the face or faces of your business.
Nothing sets a person at ease more than being greeted at the door with a smile, and your homepage is your chance to do just that. No matter what type of business you have, it’s always a good idea to include a picture of yourself or the people who run your business. This is especially true for a website that has a vanity URL (First+LastName.com). Showing the face or faces of your business increases connection with your visitors and makes your business feel more personal and approachable.
→ Give people a way to stay in touch.
You’ve made the effort to invite people into your internet home (and hopefully explore the pages of your site)—now give them a way to stay in touch. A great way to do this is to include an opt-in on your homepage. It could be a free PDF download, a video you’ve created, or a podcast episode. Whatever it is, you’ll be able to get each subscriber’s name and email address so you can continue the conversation you’ve started, keep building a relationship with them, and encourage them to return to your website again and again.
There you have it!
When you treat your homepage as your virtual front door and design it with your visitors’ needs in mind, you’ll be doing what it takes to build meaningful relationships with those who visit your site—relationships that may one day turn into new customers and raving fans.