A lot has been said about the importance of first impression on people. Supported by aspects like good design and loading speed, your homepage plays an important role in creating this first impression for visitors. But in the last few years, the idea of a homepage has rightly been evolving.
Not too long ago, people visited a website by manually entering its URL. While many still do that, visits are increasingly happening through links shared on mailers, social media posts, and other websites. As a result, visitors often arrive directly on specific pages of your website without landing first on your homepage. But the homepage continues to draw a great deal of attention from web designers and content creators because it is still important.
Some designers compare a homepage to a hotel lobby in that it's important to have a welcoming lobby, even though people move on to other areas of the hotel. Also, a swanky lobby cannot compensate for a poor guest experience. Similarly, the advantage of a good homepage can only be fully realized if the entire website lives up to the promise.
Today, let's look at a few factors you need to keep in mind while getting your homepage in order.
A few years back, a header simply referred to the narrow strip on top of your website, which contained the logo and contact information. Today, the whole space above the first fold of a homepage is called the header. Whether it's on a newspaper or a website, a headline should grab a person's attention. This is where you drive home a message about your website and your brand. Brevity is significant to convey your message. For instance, take a look at the headline on the homepage of Swedish furniture company Ikea.
Ikea's message comes in the context of a pandemic. When people are increasingly indoors, home is projected as a space where one can unwind and relax. You don't have to go far to do this if you've designed your home the right way. Note how words like furniture or upholstery are not mentioned even once.
Many websites also supplement their headline with a tagline or a sub-headline to go into more detail about their offering.
Images convey a lot more than words, and on a homepage, you do it with the hero image. A hero image is the large image that people first set their eyes on when your page loads on their device. A lot of thought often goes into getting the right image that conveys what the brand stands for and creates an immediate positive impression.
The hero image of the Airbnb website evokes the imagery of travel and discovery, lending it an exotic element, but feeling at home while doing so. You can read up more about Hero images here.
Sometimes, hero images are replaced with hero videos. A good site builder gives enough room to experiment with such options. If you're starting off small and don't have a bank of photos to choose from, site builders like Zoho help you by providing access to high-resolution stock images, which can be representative of what you seek to convey. Also, add alt text to your images to make them accessible to visitors who are unable to see them.
Primary calls-to-action (CTAs)
Keep in mind your website's purpose as you design and craft it. Are you selling a product or service, or are you trying to gain a following for your work through a newsletter? Keep this goal at the forefront and work everything around it. You can then lead visitors to learn more about your business. Today, websites are making this possible by placing the CTA button in the hero slide. These can be seen in the above examples from Ikea and Airbnb. You may include more than one CTA to direct people to different sections of the website as can be seen in the Adidas homepage, where the visitors are being led to separate links for men and women.
Make sure that these CTA buttons are eye-catching, ideally in a color that is in contrast with the color scheme of your homepage. Examples of CTA copy include "Sign up," "Make an appointment," or "Try it for free." On the Spotify homepage below, notice how the white CTA button has been placed with a contrasting background so it stands out and doesn't blend in to its surroundings. If you want to know more about CTA, check this website.
While you talk about yourself on the About Us page, the message gets louder when someone else talks about you. Testimonials or social proof are strong indicators of trust. You could be creating a meaningful impact with your work, but you can convey this to others better when there are testimonials from visitors and customers on your website. Linking to impact stories from your homepage can add credibility to your offering.
It's best to place the navigation menu at the top of your web page and organize the links in a structured way. No one knows your website better than your designer, so conduct user tests to ensure it's simple for visitors to find what they're looking for. If you're putting together your website with the help of site builders like Zoho, these studies and tests have already been carried out by experts to optimize the menu. Its ready-made templates also ensure that the layouts are responsive and work well on all devices.
Regularly check the visits on your pages linked to the menu. If you want to drive more traffic to a particular page, see if you can rename some of these menu labels. If something looks redundant, remove it.
You website could already be getting a steady number of leads, but you can generate more from your homepage by offering educational content such as a whitepaper, ebooks, research reports, or case studies, depending on your business.
If visitors see you as a subject matter expert and as someone who's trying to provide value even before they've bought your product or service, they're likely to trust you to offer value. Here's an example from Impact, a growth equity firm that offers educational content for users on their homepage.
A secondary CTA on your homepage can offer additional conversion opportunities from prospects who aren't interested in your primary objective. This works by offering another path for visitors who may be interested in something else you could provide. For example, below the fold on the Firefox Bikes homepage, you’ll find a CTA for visitors who might be interested in buying accessories from them rather than the bike itself.
Customer success stories, awards, and recognition can help create a good first impression on your visitors. Has your business received good reviews? Are you an award-winning local publisher? Your product has a million subscribers? Let your homepage visitors know of your accomplishments. It will give your business more credibility and makes your company look good in general.
As you can see, it's important to keep your homepage up to date. When your work is dynamic and changing, your website cannot remain static—it should reflect your current position. Constantly keep abreast of market trends and see if there are any ideas you can to incorporate into your site.
Also, less is more. Minimalism is gaining traction as a lifestyle choice, but it is also true with websites. One might be tempted to serve everything right away on the website, but that will only clutter it. You can't say it all in one place. Instead, keep it clean and keep the navigation smooth so that people can reach the desired page with ease. The homepage is a base ground for your website and speaks about who you are. Keeping these factors in mind will help you drive home the message with ease.
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