Your home page is important. Quite often it’s the page that most visitors come to first. It’s the page you will generate the most links to, unless you write an epic post. It may also be the page that the search engines pay the most attention to when people are searching for you by name. With these facts in mind it makes sense to make sure your home page is as well designed as it possibly can be.
There are seven key elements for a successful home page. They each are important independently, but they work together to provide a unique and impact experience for your visitor. Before you take a look at these key elements, however, it’s important to answer a question first.
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Your home page needs to have a goal – an objective. What do you want visitors to do? What action do you want them to take? There are many possibilities. You may want direct your reader to:
Once you know what you want visitors to do, then you can make sure your home page supports this goal.
The images you choose on your home page are important. You want them to support the overall website and business goals but they shouldn’t detract from the main purpose of the website. Images, in the form of graphics and photos, can quickly overwhelm a home page and become a distraction if you don’t manage them carefully.
An example of how the image is part of the successful home page is the image on the right – Mike Gardner’s Time Doctor website.
If you choose to use images (and they really can enhance a home page) make sure they support your goals. Make sure they adequately represent your brand.
This will probably mean booking a photo shoot, and buying some specific stock images and customising them to fit your brand.
The most common image you use might is your own photo, as you can see from the example, you can look Mike right in the eye and see that he’s a real human being. This helps connect the reader to you. It helps brand your business and start building a rapport. You can also have photos and imagery around what you do, how you do it and your services.
The images should tell your story visually and back up the words on the home page. On Mike’s homepage you see temples, held up by pillars. The temples are your time; your scared resource and the pillars are what support it. You’re invited to click the button and select where you need help and support.
Everything from words to images should be in alignment with each other. If they’re not, your reader can tell. They can’t quite put their finger on something being wrong, they just know that it is.
Your strapline is often the very first thing a visitor will see. If it doesn’t grab their attention, then it’s not doing its job. However, in addition to grabbing their attention, it also must support your home page’s purpose.
Are you in any doubt what Alice at the Fairy Blogmother does? Of course not! Her strapline, her front page header asks you a question that doesn’t leave any room for doubt. You know exactly what Alice does, and who she helps.
Take time to craft your home page headline. This is also an important element to test and track. Create two home pages with two different headlines and then test them. Yes, that’s right, test your home page’s impact. Determine which headline is better at helping you accomplish your goal for this page.
Emotions are what your visitors use to validate their buying decisions. They’re incredibly important if you’re trying to motivate any action.
The home page of Koffee Klatch talks directly to the reader, in this example someone who employs freelancers. As you read down the page you’ll see how your emotions are brought into the conversation. If you hire the wrong person it will cost you your business, your home and set you back to square one. Do you want to be in that position? No!
You can tap into your visitors’ emotions with images and words. If it’s the first time visitor, you need to show you understand their needs and tap into their emotions so that they trust you enough to start moving through the site, and as Annabel home page shows you can even have your ducks in a row.
Make sure that your visitor not only knows what they’re supposed to do on your home page, but also that they can quickly work out how to do it.
This isn’t always a navigation bar, the successful rise of home pages as landing pages proves this isn’t always needed. You just have to make it clear for your visitor to take the next click.
On the 1230 TWC homepage you can see all the successful home page elements in action.
If you want your visitors to move deeper into your website, then make sure your buttons and call to action support this. If they can’t find the way to the page they want, they’re going to leave.
You might notice that many of the elements of a successful home page are also sales copy elements. This is because you are trying to motivate an action. Your home page has a purpose. Proof can be demonstrated by:
The proof you use, again, depends upon your goal.
On Morena Russell’s home page you can see her smile and strapline straightaway. There’s no mincing her words, Morena goes straight with the facts to enhance the emotional pull of the page, and follows it up with a testimonial.
If you wanted to do this on your home page you can take a look at Morena’s and get inspired.
You want to encourage an opt-in, then you might use facts and statistics along with a banner ad highlighting any awards your site has won. This gives your website credibility.
A compelling call to action is required for every successful home page.
Jane Travis uses subtle calls to action throughout her home page. It’s there in the optin form. It’s in the content, and its in place under every single blog post. For Jane’s audience the “read more” call to action is both gentle and reassuring.
Calls to action guide your visitors towards the action you’d like them to do next. There’s no clutter, just simple and effective sign-posting and calls to action.
Remember to test your calls to action too. We’ve found “grab” works better than “subscribe” in the optin calls to action. Whatever works the best for your audience is the one that you stick with.
Finally, if your goal is to motivate an opt-in, then you must have an opt-in form on your home page. In fact, everything on that page needs to support the goal of the visitor becoming a subscriber? Why? Because 70% of website visitors leave never to return again – even if they like your site.
Here’s a sneak peak of Sarah Buchanan-Smith’s business coaching website.
As you can see asking for the optin is right up the top with Sarah’s photo.
Make sure the elements on your page support your goals and your success. Test and track various elements until you get the best results, and remember, nothing, not even the home page, is set in stone and it can be tweaked and tested until it’s supporting your website goals.
Is it time your home page had a makeover?
Kevin Arrow is the CEO of the Online Visibility Academy where ethical entrepreneurs can train in digital marketing skills
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