I don’t feel the need to explain to you what your homepage is or how it’s the portal to the rest of your site’s oh, so fascinating content. As a website owner, you should know exactly how crucial your homepage is given that it’s the first thing your visitors see. I’m here to help you design and optimize it because it only takes seconds for a visitor to ditch if they don’t find your homepage visually appealing as well as clean. Think about your home— don’t you want it to be welcoming and inviting? Approach your homepage the same way! Below are some things to keep in mind when optimizing and designing your homepage.
The goal should always be to keep your visitors engaged. By staying aware of possible outcomes, positive or negative, you automatically have a leg up on your competition. There are tons of ways to effectively optimize your homepage and I’m going to show you a few that are arguably the best strategies.
User experience (UX) is everything. Not only do you want to strive to make your homepage user friendly, but also enjoyable. Even if you think your page is navigable by a monkey, don’t just stop there! The goal is to have your users returning not because they have to, but because they want to.
If I took one glance at your homepage, I should be able to understand what your call to action and goals are with no muss, no fuss. The key to keeping your homepage clean and simple is knowing when to let go. It’s like a toxic relationship that you keep going back to. Girl, I promise you, you don’t need him (or that unnecessary information you insist on including on your homepage). It’s not me, it’s you.
On the average web page, a user only has time to read 28% of the words during an average visit. (Whaaaat?) Pack your information as tightly as possible with simple words so your users can scan it quickly and still know everything you want them to know. I know, using big words makes you sound smart like you’re some fancy business person sitting in your NYC office on the 72nd floor with a gorgeous view. Use language that people actually understand and can relate to. Some ways to make it scannable include bulleted or numbered lists, headlines in differing scales, and concise sentences. Don’t forget to include images when possible. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Place it at the top in bold, bright lettering. Use action verbs to encourage your users to do something, whether it’s explore, take action or simply stay and observe. I would also only have one CTA on the homepage to limit the users from having to make decisions. If they’re anything like me and hate making decisions when unnecessary, then multiple options only scare them away. Finally, make sure that your call to action is also noticeably clickable so they can actually do what you want.
If you want to be number one on Google, which I’m sure you do, then Search Engine Optimization should be your best friend. SEO will help you attract your targeted audience to your site by showing up on search queries. Sure, you may not expect your homepage to get high rankings, but it’s the first page the user’s see and tells them everything they need to know before they go deeper into your site. Digital Marketing Pro is an awesome tool to refer to if you’re just learning how to SEO your homepage.
What if I told you that 51.2% of internet traffic comes from mobile users? That means that a little over half of internet users are accessing the internet on mobile devices rather than desktop computers these days. Would you panic and realize your site is not mobile friendly? If so, shame on you. Going responsive means having the ability to function on a variety of screen sizes and resolutions.
This one is simple. Providing a way to contact you not only gives your visitors a way of reaching you, but proves that there is a real human somewhere behind their screen. It’s a sense of relief as well, especially when users are about to take action whether it be to make a purchase or join your organization. Your users need to know that they can reach you should something go wrong during an online transaction or to settle any of their concerns moving forward. Live chats are pretty cool, too! But you’d have to have someone available 24/7 and ain’t nobody got time for that.
Look, I don’t care what navigation method you use whether it’s hamburger or navigation bars as long as you make it clear to the users exactly what comes next (Contact, About, Products, Support, etc.). Avoid making it cutesy or cheesy, less is always more.
Never say “we” in your copy because it’s never about you, but how you’re helping your customer. Always address them by saying “YOU can increase YOUR sales by...” and never “We can help you increase your sales.” People are more likely to listen to you if you’re focused on them and how to help them rather than your part in this. You don’t want them to think you’re using them primarily to help your business and instead show them that you genuinely care.
UX stands for user experience but has everything to do with making sure the produce is useful and usable. When you’re asked to recall a memory, chances are not so great ones are the memories that come to mind first. Bad experiences are some of the most unforgettable. You don’t want your homepage to be a bad experience for your users.
Who doesn’t like a pretty homepage? I know, I know— you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover but when it comes to homepage, I certainly do. Visuals can mean a number of things such as videos, animations, gifs, photographs, text, etc. If your homepage isn’t aesthetically pleasing, it looks cheap and lazy. (Was that harsh?)
This falls in line with visuals, but is important enough to be recognized on it’s own. It’s ok to stick to the standard black and white, but if you throw even just one color into your theme palette, it’ll make a world of difference. Your homepage doesn’t need to resemble the rainbow, or worse, have colors that don’t pair well (red and purple). Remember to keep it clean as well.
Allow your visitors to connect or relate to who you are. If you have a clear presence, you’ll grow an audience who admires, trusts and continually engages in your site. This is obviously crucial for those of you with blogs. Since your homepage is the first thing users see when the stumble upon your site, you want this interaction to be as personable as possible.
Nothing draws the eye more than motion. Bringing animations to your homepage is a game changer as long as you don’t go overboard. Animations tell a story, arouse emotion or easily communicate with your viewers how something works. I’m not talking about the tiny icons with various video clips of dancing cats and flashing, glittery bubble letters reading “Welcome to Myspace!!” Let’s leave those in the dark ages. Animations can be GIFs, hover over effects, background videos, etc. The possibilities are endless. Before you add animations though, make sure it won’t slow the speed of your site. After all, we’re focused on user experience.
It can take a matter of seconds for your homepage to bore your user into leaving immediately. There needs to be something in it for them. Make your taglines and headlines simple, fun, unique and easy to remember to separate yourself from your competition.
For every sentence you write and every placement of a paragraph, there needs to be a strategy behind it. Approach your homepage with the thought that you are selling something (and you very well may be!). Page psychology is a thing and it’s intense, people.
The most important thing to take away from these homepages is that you need to make it you.