We talk a lot on this blog about the elements of a good website. From tweaking your copy so it resonates with your audience to converting it to a mobile-responsive site, we’re always sharing new tips to make your website more visually appealing and higher converting.
But before you spend hours of valuable time fine-tuning your font size, it’s important to make sure it performs every function a good website should. And for most small businesses, that process starts with the homepage.
Not sure what your homepage should do? We’re sharing 4 vital functions of your website’s homepage.
You’ve probably heard the old adage that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. That’s especially true when it comes to your website. It only takes visitors 0.05 seconds — or 50 milliseconds — to form an opinion about your site, and 38% of people will stop engaging immediately if it looks unattractive.
Most often, that first impression is the responsibility of your home page. It’s typically the first page people visit on your website and can be the determining factor in whether they click further into your site or abandon ship immediately.
So what does it take to make a good first impression with your website visitors?
First, you need to establish a clear brand identity. Your visitors want to know right away what your website is about, so make it obvious from the second the page loads.
To do this, we recommend starting with the visuals. Your logo should be clearly visible at the top of the page, either centered or aligned with the left side of the screen. Most people tend to read websites in an F-shaped pattern, so this placement makes your logo the first thing they see.
Next, be sure to include your company’s tagline above the fold, or high enough on the screen that viewers don’t need to scroll in order to read it. Usually this will form the second leg of viewers’ F-shaped reading pattern, and adding it here is a fast way to let them know what you do.
You’ll also want to incorporate your brand colors throughout the site. Remember, each color carries its own inherent meanings and symbolisms, so consider what message you want to present when choosing the look for your brand and website.
Now that you’ve gotten the aesthetics of your home page nailed down, think about what your visitors will read. Your logo and tagline tell them your company name and what you do, but that’s not enough information for them to feel comfortable with you yet. They still need a formal introduction.
Take some space below the fold to introduce your business and your team so that your visitors have a better idea of who they’re dealing with. You don’t need to go into great detail here as long as you link to a separate About page.
Your homepage should also highlight some of the services you offer or products you sell. Doing so helps draw in visitors for whom your company is a good fit because they’ll click through to your services page to learn more. This also lets people know right away if your company is not a good fit for their needs so they don’t waste time searching your website for something you don’t offer.
Want to dive deeper into what your customers want? It’s all laid out for you in our previous blog, “6 Things Your Potential Customers Want to See on Your Website.”
Your home page is not an island; it’s part of a network of several other pages that work together to form your website as a whole. As such, it simply can’t function as a standalone feature — it has to seamlessly tie into your other pages.
The simplest way to connect all of your website pages is to feature a clear navigation structure at the top of your page. This menu should carry throughout your website be easy to spot on every page.
Next, use your homepage to link out to your other pages like Services or Products, About, FAQs, and even your blog. Each of these is an opportunity to provide more value to your visitors … and 74% of buyers choose the company that was first to add value during their search.
Your homepage is also a good place to feature special content, like a top-performing blog post, a case study, or a free download. You can introduce these features with a short description and then link to the content page.
Aside from helping your visitors find information more easily, a well-linked home page may also be good for your search engine rankings. When you encourage deeper browsing, you discourage a high bounce rate, or the rate at which people leave your site after viewing only one page.
Though bounce rate is not one of Google’s direct ranking factors, it can be an indicator of how relevant your site’s content is to the search in question. And relevance is something Google watches closely when ranking search results.
People want to know that a business is the real deal before they get involved financially. Your homepage needs to establish credibility with your visitors so that they feel comfortable considering your services further.
The primary way that most businesses do this is by including testimonials and reviews on their home page.
Testimonials are a key way to establish trust with your audience because they’re third-party validation — someone who’s not associated with your company is singing your praises, and that tells your visitors that you must be onto something good.
In fact, 74% of consumers say word of mouth marketing (like testimonials) is a key influencer in their purchasing decision — on average, people trust word of mouth marketing between 2X and 10X more than paid advertising.
Another way to establish expertise is to showcase portfolio items on your home page. If you’re an interior design company, feature photos of a room that your company styled. If you’re an orthodontist, show before and after photos of a patient who received dental implants.
Including projects like these provides visitors the proof they need to feel confident in your ability to solve their problem in a way that will make them happy. And that confidence goes a long way toward getting them to sign up for your services.
Want to read more about building trust with your audience? Read our previous blog, “7 Tactics to Establish Trust and Grow a Loyal Audience Online.”
The last main function of your website’s home page is to goad your visitors into action. For that time spend on your website to be of any help to your business, you need visitors to take another step down your sales funnel.
You can nudge them in that direction by including a well-placed call to action — to contact you, to join your email list, to claim an offer, etc. — on your homepage. If done right, this CTA can be one of the more valuable pieces of content on your page, because more than 90% of people who read your headline also read your CTA copy.
We’ve already devoted an entire blog post to CTAs, so we won't get too technical here. But there are some basics you should know for the purpose of this blog post … A call to action is your primary way to encourage a visitor to follow through on the purpose of your website, so you need to be clear about what action you want people to take. In the orthodontist example from earlier, the goal of your website is to get new patients to book an appointment. So your CTA should urge visitors to do just that.
Here are some other ways to boost your CTAs’ performance:
Ready for a website that makes a lasting impression on your audience? We can help. Contact us to tell us more about your project.
Ready for a slick new website, increased traffic and more converting customers? Tell us a little about your business and we’ll reach out to get your project underway.