Unless you’re driving paid ad clicks to a specific landing page, your website’s homepage is the first section of the site your visitors will see. It doesn’t matter if your site has dozens of other pages full of great content. How your customer feels when they walk through your virtual front door will create a lasting impression.
So –let’s talk turkey. How does your homepage measure up? Is it welcoming and easy to navigate, or is it lacking? Your homepage isn’t like a landing page; it doesn’t serve a single solitary purpose. Instead, it is both unique and important, serving a variety of roles. It needs to be designed with careful purpose. Evaluate your page to see if it has the following critical elements:
Clean Identity Branding
Your brand identity must be clear and consistent across the board. Don’t put imagery on your website that doesn’t match the logo or brand you’ve shared on a social media platform or advertisement. Your site visitors should never question whether or not they’ve landed on the wrong page because the branding doesn’t match.
There’s no need to get too fancy when it comes to your logo, either. Keep it clean yet creative. Place it near the top, centered or in the popular top-left position. Leave enough white or negative space around the logo to make it stand out. Never add animation to your logo; it creates visual problems for some visitors and won’t load properly if they’re having website connectivity issues.
Each element of the homepage needs to be designed with readability in mind. There should be plenty of white or empty space, so that your visitors can easily skim the page and find the pieces of information they need. The more you make them dig, the faster they’ll leave.
Fonts and colors are also an important readability consideration. Both impact your readers psychologically, and they can be the difference between someone bouncing away or sticking around to close the sale. Limit your font choices — usually one for the headers and a super-clean font for the main text is enough. Fancy fonts can help boost sales, but only if they’re large enough and easy to read.
Your color choices should be simple and relatively neutral. Harsh color mixtures are difficult to look at and can send mixed messages to consumers. Limit bold colors to one or two. Again, homepage design isn’t the time to develop a fear of white space.
People love visuals, but the photos you choose for your homepage need to make sense. There are very few instances where stock images send the right message for a homepage. Everything your potential customer sees should speak to your overall brand and vision. Use photos of your actual products, location, and staff. The homepage is a great place to include video, too.
We can’t stress this enough: your site needs to be easy to navigate. No one wants to waste time searching for your toolbar or hidden menus. Make your menu titles intuitive and straightforward, whether they’ve dealt with your industry in the past or not. You can include other links in different places, but make sure that main menu bar at the top is crisp and resourceful.
Clear Blog Integration
Don’t hide your blog. You spend a lot of time creating high-quality content with valuable information. Avoid limiting your blog’s exposure to a link in the drop-down menu. Install a tool or plugin that showcases at least a few of your blog’s posts right on the homepage. The brief description and appealing related visuals will entice visitors and keep them on your site longer. Your blog aids in building brand trust, authority and awareness. Put it to work.
There is nothing worse than digging for a site’s contact information only to be forced to a contact page that lacks an address, phone number or email address. We’re not saying you should skip the contact page altogether — you shouldn’t. We are saying you need to put your address, phone number and/or email somewhere on the page, even if it’s in the footer. Make yourself accessible to those who want to reach out; don’t make them feel like you’re hiding behind your website.
Social Media Links and Integration
Do you have profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social channels? Make sure you’ve included icons, so your new fans can quickly and easily find and follow you on their platform of choice. This helps you keep in touch with current and potential customers. Social links should be noticeable and prominent. Many sites put them in the footer, but they should be near the top of the page as well. Don’t just write out the platform names, either. Use the popular and familiar icons that your visitors will visually recognize.
Social integration tools are an effective method for encouraging better communication and deeper organic relationships with consumers. Make it easy for people to share your content on their social media pages by having a plugin that allows them to repost your content with a simple button click. They’re doing you a favor by sharing your content, so don’t make them work too hard to do it.
A lot of companies have separate pages for testimonials, but again, they’re hidden. Research proves that up to 79 percent of consumers will make buying decisions based on reviews and testimonials. There are plenty of simple tools you can use to showcase some of your best – right on the homepage – while at the same time directing them to the full page.
Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Your homepage should have a clear call-to-action, showcase your achievements, and offer an overview of your products or services. Like we said before, this one lonely page has a lot of responsibility. You can’t set it and forget it. Giving your homepage regular attention will ensure it’s the shining star at the top of your company’s online presence.