When it comes to your homepage, it is the face of your online branding. You have 7 seconds to catch a viewers attention before they decide they don’t like what they see and quickly move on. Make a great first impression (after all, we only get one) from the very second they open your website. There are 8 key features every homepage should consist of in order to appease the standard viewer. As website design and development has progressed through the years, we, as users, have come accustomed to certain features we expect to see for all website. It’s when we don’t have these needs met that we quickly form a negative opinion of the business, overall, and consider whether or not we want to proceed with any actions. Utilize your homepage to its full potential, create a welcome map to your site that is user-friendly.
Let’s start from the top and work our way down.
This isn’t necessarily a focus for the homepage only, more for the entire site, however it’s a major factor. With over 50% of internet users coming from mobile devices in 2017, you must ensure your website works accordingly for that need. If your website (therefore your homepage) doesn’t function properly on a mobile device you will gain a higher bounce rate as users have a short attention span for dealing a non-mobile website.
A common function of this representation is the hamburger menu that minimizes your main navigation to a mobile friendly version.
The logo is the visual branding of your business, it needs to be one of the first items on your homepage. No matter the design aspect of your website, your logo needs to be front and center in order to give viewers that immediate recognition to know they are in the right place. The universal location for a logo is up at the top in the header field of your page, typically we see it in the upper left corner. The important thing is that your logo is clear and sized appropriately for your website design.
Something to note: you can place your logo throughout your site as well, just because you’ve made it prominent in the first section of your homepage doesn’t mean you need to be limited to just that area. If your logo doesn’t stay static at the top of your website as the users navigate, that may be something to consider updating.
Create a clear line of direction with your navigation. Determine your primary pages of focus and stem down from there to create appropriate sub-pages. Take the time to think through your path of navigation and what your users are looking for. Don’t keep adding pages as you add new content, creating an unnecessary level of confusion to find what users need. When adding new content determine if it’s deserving of a new page, and if it is, where should it be located? If it can be added to an existing page, creating simplicity in the reading, then go that route. If you create a confusing route with multiple, unneeded paths to get to the same goal location, you will create frustration and higher bounce rates among your users.
Primary Area of Focus
Whether utilizing a slider or a static area, your first focus needs to clearly represent the purpose of your website. It’s an introduction. It should be short and quick to the point. Provide a welcome message that fits your businesses personality while inviting your viewer to dive in.
Don’t pick an image or title that seems “artistic” and pleasing to you if it doesn’t represent what you are trying to explain in a clear manner. Leaving room for users to question the purpose of something just opens up misinterpretation and missed opportunity to quickly direct them to the area of your site you want them to be.
If you are using images, make sure they are high resolution and proportioned for the area of use. Low quality images can have a major negative affect for any website. Don’t allow this area to become outdated with information that’s no longer prominent. This area should be used for the primary reasons users are coming to your site. Promote an event, explain what you are about, share an upcoming promotion, share the latest news…No matter how you decide to use this area, the end result needs to make sense for your business, needs to be clear, clean, and up to date.
Call to Action Areas
Create secondary call to action areas on your homepage that keep it clean and simple, but call out areas of focus for faster links to popular areas of your site. Eliminate their need to find it themselves and potentially miss out. Utilize these areas to call attention to the aspects of your site that will likely fill the need of your users. New products on sale, latest news report, services offered, how to contact you right now….fast and easy ways to find the main focal points your website has to offer.
If you have social profiles ensure they are clearly represented on your homepage. Be proud of your other online profiles that you work hard to maintain. Creating this secondary call to action area has multiple benefits. It opens opportunity to gain followers on all your accounts. It enhances your SEO rankings with cross linking and creates multiple avenues for you to reach your target audience.
If you have a members only access, a cart view, a sign-up form, site search bar, or anything that requires special attention and quick access for return visitors, make sure those are easy to find. You can create a secondary navigation near your primary navigation for them to quickly direct to. You can add these to the footer as your user continues to scroll they will easily see the area they need. You can also utilize a call to action area of your homepage if one of these areas is a major component of your website functionality. No matter the area these are placed, they need to exist on the homepage. Don’t make repeat users search for what they need or they may not return.
Use your footer as a “reminder” of what they can find on your site. This should be quick access to what they may have missed if they didn’t look through your menu navigation or the call to actions as they scrolled down the homepage.
Popular items to include are:
- contact information
- secondary navigation to internal pages
- eNewsletter sign-up form
- social follow buttons
- latest news/blog post links
- special/coupon offer
- badges of certification/associations
So, take a step back and navigate your homepage as if you were a new or returning user. Look at it from their perspective. Is the site appealing? Easy to navigate? Does your homepage represent the main areas of your business and provide useful information? If there’s outdated info or you find yourself backtracking as you attempt to navigate, then it’s time to reassess your homepage.