As a web design agency that develops hundreds of websites each year, we know how critical it is to get the all important ‘home page’ right. It is estimated that users spend 10-20 seconds on a website when they are first assessing its suitability for their needs. This means either grab their interest immediately or lose them forever.
When it comes to creating a website, having the correct information readily available on your homepage is key, as well as making sure it is optimised for the type of user / customer you are expecting on the site. In this article, we list the top items that should appear on your homepage and why they are important.
Top Homepage Objectives
When looking at a website, visitors have 3 options:
- Make a purchase / engage with content (i.e. fill in a form)
- Scroll down for more information
- Exit the page
With this information in mind, there are several key questions you must ask yourself when creating your website homepage:
- Does your homepage need to be complex or simple?
- What do you want your visitors to do? Make a purchase? Join an email list?
- How much information is required for the homepage?
Having answers to these questions is key to creating the best website for your goals, and knowing these things prior to starting any website development is critical. We have taken our top 5 designers from our web design agency and compiled their tips and tricks for you to use when planning your home page!
Web Design Agency Secrets! Top Homepage Essentials:
Here are the top essentials for your website’s homepage:
#1. Create a Catchy Headline.
The headline is the first thing people see when they visit your website. The headline should tell people what your site is about and what it has to offer. For best results, keep it short and sweet. This can sometimes be your tagline but often it will be a shortened version of one of your Unique Selling Propositions (USPs). If you don’t have these or know what they are, this is a whole other issue!
An example of this from a client of our web design agency:
GOOD: Courses, Coaching and Community for Creatives
BAD: Learn From our Great Courses
Your headline should take up around 10-20% of your ‘above the fold’ space and be in an easy to read font.
#2. Attention-Grabbing Sub-Headline.
After reading the sub headline, your target audience should know what you do and what you have to offer. Your sub-headline should be straightforward and doesn’t have any jargon or slang. It may include your mission as a business.
An example of this from a client of our web design agency:
GOOD: On a mission to help one billion people make a living doing what they love (without losing their soul). We’re like a private art school – minus the crippling debt.
BAD: We create courses to help people do better business
Your sub headline should be a smaller font yet still large enough that it is easy to read and engages emotion from your target audience.
WHAT MAKES IT GOOD? In our example the good headline is aimed at creative freelancers letting them know this website offers them a series of relevant resources for their industry, the subheading then incorporates the company mission along with two key statements aimed at creating emotion. ‘We’re like a private art school’ – this can create a sense of pride, because many freelancers have not been to art school, and may have wanted to. ‘Minus the crippling debt’ – can create a sense of fairness and understanding for their personal situation. Overall the headline and sub headline are aimed at a specific group of freelancers who might want to increase their skills and stay up to date with relevant information about their industry.
WHAT MAKES IT BAD? In the example we have coined as bad, we determine this because the headline itself may explain that this is a site that sells courses, but it is not industry specific, therefore too difficult to easily distinguish by your audience, if it is really relevant for them. Further on, the sub-heading continues to be vague, and a bit generic.
#3. Use a Relevant Image or Video.
People are visual, which means having a relevant image or video is key. You video or image should cause some type of emotional reaction and inspire visitors to take action. Videos should be relatively short, less than 2 minutes for best results. Typically video content does perform better than image, and consumer habits are leading towards video consumption as a preference. Your video can showcase you as the business owner, your team, your office, your products or cover off your services. It can even be a testimonial from someone who loves your products / services.
#4. Be Mobile Friendly.
All the eye catching pictures, graphics, videos and links are useless if people have difficulty accessing your site or can’t navigate it easily on a variety of devices. With more than 60% of online activities happening via smartphones or tablets, having a mobile friendly website is a must. Make sure all text, links, and images are clear and easy to read on both desktops and mobile electronic devices.
It is worth doing a bit of research to understand how your visitors will consume your content and what devices they will be accessing it from.
This means if you are DIYing your own website using some of the DIY website builders make sure you use reputable platforms such as WordPress, Shopify, Wix or Squarespace. Make sure the templates you use (whether free or purchased) have good reviews for mobile friendliness. Our web design agency recommends purchasing themes from reputable marketplaces like ThemeForest.
#5. Clear and Easy to Use Navigation.
In addition to being mobile friendly, your homepage must provide users with an easy way to navigate your site. Remember: you only have a 10-20 second window of opportunity to get a visitor’s attention. Increase your odds of success with clear and concise navigation links. They can be located at the top and bottom of the homepage.
This might look like a header with clear categories and areas within the site you want them to visit.
#6. Consider SEO and key search terms.
When you are creating the homepage content and copy you’ll need to think about weaving the key search terms and phrases your audience will use. As a general rule having at least 3-5 key search terms is a good place to start.
But how to know what search terms your audience are using and what volume of search traffic they get? Our web design agency team uses a nifty chrome plugin called Keywords Everywhere which once installed on your chrome browser will analyse popular search terms you enter into google search. Let’s say in keeping with the above example for heading and subheading, you think your audience might be graphic designers. With the keywords everywhere plugin installed, when I type into google ‘graphic desiner online course’ I can see the plugin has determined that there are over 3,600 searchs per month for this keyword phrase. In the bottom right hand corner I can also see other keyword phrases that are important to consider and may be relevant to my audience.
Once you have selected your keywords and keyword phrases, link these into as much of the copywriting for that homepage, so you generate more organic search traffic.
#7. Add Testimonials.
The best way to gain credibility is when others compliment and recommend your products or services. Having a few testimonials on your homepage lets new visitors know customers are happy with what you have to offer, and they could be satisfied as well.
Testimonials should be easy to back up and not be too ambiguous. Whilst you need to respect the privacy of your customers, consider listing their name and title. You can also link from third party sources such as google or Yelp to add credibility.
#8. Use Easy to Read Fonts.
Resist the urge to use fancy fonts on the homepage. In addition to viewing your site from a mobile phone with a small screen, some visitors may be from other parts of the world. Keeping it simple is advised so that your content can easily be read on a number of devices and also a number of ages and abilities.
Consider having ‘web fonts’ as part of your brand guidelines so that these can be threaded through your offline content also and then you continue to have brand consistency through all communication channels.
#9. Have A Search Feature.
This is mandatory for those who have a lot of products or services available. Instead of attempting to get everything on one page, the search feature will help keep your site clean and streamlined. Too much information on one page could cause sensory overload and prompt visitors to quickly leave.
Many homepages will often feature the ‘search’ functionality in the beginnging of their above the fold content. Enabling the user to quickly find what they want without having to engage with too much of your content.
#10. What is the Benefit?
What benefits will visitors to your website receive? Briefly describe how your products or services can enhance their lives. If they like what they see they will continue browsing your site. Many web design agency designers will attest to the fact that the more your content describes how your product or service will enhance your target audiences lives, the easier it is to convert. If you list ‘features’ over benefits, you risk losing a customer.
#11. Give Them a Deal / Incentivise Engagement.
A great way to increase website traffic and keep visitors’ attention is by giving them something, such as a discount on a product or service. In addition, free downloads or coupons on your homepage are popular ways to keep visitors engaged. Some call it ‘clickbait’ but put simply, it works. Some sort of incentive to purchase or engage with content is key. And often this should sit above the fold.
#12. Provide Additional Resources.
In the era of “fake news,” providing links to reputable sources is an excellent way to establish credibility. First-time visitors may not be ready to purchase anything, and this is normal. However, they may be more receptive to making a purchase after viewing your site and credible resources.
Putting It All Together
If it takes the average visitor 10-20 seconds to determine if they will stay on your website or move on to the next one – then it is critical to get the all important home page perfected to increase your chances of conversion. The average website converts at a rate of 2.86%. As a result, having a well-designed homepage is critical. By following these web design agency tips, you can be one step closer to creating the perfect homepage for your customers and site visitors.
More About Soto Group
We are an Australian branding, marketing, and web design agency based in Mount Lawley, WA. We service clients all over the globe and help them navigate the often tricky website design landscape. Our ethos is to build relationships based on trust that leads to design projects and outcomes that are goal-specific and help our clients’ businesses grow and thrive. Hundreds of businesses trust us to build then brands and websites that can stand the test of time, and lead to more conversions, more sales and more work life balance.
If you are looking for more advice on getting the right website for you or finding out more about our services and how we help businesses excel, reach out to our friendly team for a no-obligation chat.