5 Secrets to a Great Home Page
We all know first impressions count. When we go on interviews or dates, we all try and look our best in order to present ourselves in the best light. This is the same for the homepage of any business website.
The first thing most visitors see of an Internet website is the home page and as such it is critical that this first impression is a good one.
A good homepage can encourage casual visitors to explore your business website…
A great homepage can turn them into customers…
1) Apply the KISS design principle
The KISS principle states that most designs work best if they are kept simple and straightforward instead of being complex and overly complicated. It was originally coined by Kelly Johnson and is widely used in both the Air Force and software industries, advocating simplicity as a key goal in the design strategy.
Most of the time the visitors to your business website do not know exactly what they are looking for, and want information given to them in small and usable chunks. They then decide if it is interesting to them or not. By keeping your home page simple and straightforward and by offering small items with a link to delve deeper and learn more, you will avoid over complicating and cluttering up your business website. Your home page will immediately have a much better chance of being a great homepage.
2) Do not bore your visitors to death
Working as a web designer in Nottingham at Net Quality Web Design, I have seen almost every conceivable request, some good, and many bad. In my experience some of the worst requests have been where it comes to the content.
The text and content you display on your homepage must engage your visitor’s interest instantly. Attention spans are shortening while expectations are increasing and as a result a great homepage will engage the attention directly. I have developed websites where the format and navigation is fantastic, only to be let down by the client insisting on poor content. This includes the client insisting on proudly displaying a welcome message from the CEO or including an unremitting mission statement in its entirety.
Welcome messages and/or cleverly chosen excerpts from a mission statement can be perfect for a great homepage. However to keep the interest of your visitors ensure you include only content which is clear and which can dazzle, and look to distil the message into a compelling declaration. On the Net Quality Web Design homepage, the statement “Web Design Nottingham for Small Businesses” is proudly displayed and immediately positions the website service we offer.
3) Help your visitors meet their goals
When considering the design of a great home page, it is vital to reflect on your audience, their purpose and their goals. One method I often use with new clients to our Web Design agency in Nottingham is to brainstorm and write down the key goals and tasks visitors may want to carry out. These ideas are then presented as a list before being grouped and prioritised.
Some examples of the goals we identified for visitors to our own business website include:
- Check the service provided meets the visitors needs (“Service” on the main menu)
- Tell me how much each service costs (“Prices” menu option)
- Prove to me you can do the job (“Portfolio” button on the menu)
- How do I get more information? (“Contact” and our telephone numbers displayed on all pages)
- But are you a reputable company? (Footer information on all pages showing how long we’ve been in business, our physical company address and our fax number)
These then feed directly into the design of the homepage. Your design should provide quick and visible links which meet all the key goals. To help your visitors, ensure each link is clear and is written in an engaging and appealing manner. Visitors are so much more likely to click “5 Secrets to a Great Home Page” than “Good practices to follow to make the home page of your website better”.
4) Make sure it works
It is astonishing how many website pages simply do not work and which contain basic errors. Visitors to your website will not be forgiving – they have access to competitors and substitutes and they will move away from your homepage if it does not work. Studies have shown that on average 4 to 8 seconds is required to take the decision whether to click within your website or to click away from your website.
A great homepage must follow some basic rules:
Use good colours to ensure your brand is visible and to highlight your name, logo and slogan. This will establish your business identity and launch your credibility. Important points should be emphasised by well chosen colour combinations, and low visibility pairs such as red/green should be avoided.
Check the grammar and spelling to give a meticulous image of a meticulous business.
‘A picture speaks a thousand words’ is a well known phrase, but is even more important for a great home page. Make sure the images play a purpose on your website page and fit into the framework of the content.
Links to pages must work as a click on any link is a demonstration that the user actively wants to learn more about your business. Imagine the deception a “Page not Found” error will generate. If it is not sufficient for him to leave your business website altogether, it will place a black mark against your organisation.
5) Convince your visitors to stay
Visitors to your business website cannot see you and may not even ever speak to you. It is vital therefore that your homepage convinces them to stay on your Internet site. A great homepage performs this function by:
- Making visitors feel comfortable so that they trust your organisation and are prepared to spend time on your website - the ultimate goal is that they become a customer. Do not include garish colours, music or pop-up screens as these have all been proven to annoy visitors.
- Earning the trust of the visitor so they believe you offer the best-value solution. Reveal yourself and explain your unique selling point, the business advantages you offer, and why you stand head and shoulders above the competition.
- Providing simple and intuitive navigation. It is impossible to present all the information your organisation has to offer on the homepage. A great homepage will have easily visible calls to action in order to discover the in-depth details a customer will want to discover.
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