Your home page is generally the most visited page and the one which the search engines will return in searches most often. The difficulty is in getting your home page to capture every important aspect on your service offering, making sure nothing is left out!
Trying to get the layout right is a real challenge. It’s a balancing act between getting as much as you can incorporated into the page but making sure the page doesn’t end up delivering a very confused message which will ultimately turn away visitors.
The ideal is to get your home page to convey the essence of your offer while providing clear pathways for visitors to find out more about you and your business.
Below are some of the key components which if included in your home page might help you to achieve this objective.
Headline – A clear statement conveying what your business offers. This seems obvious but many businesses do not make this clear. Those first 3 seconds when someone lands on your site can be the difference between a capturing a visitor’s attention and losing it.
Features – What unique features or business services help you translate this offer into successful results?
Benefits – A short summary of what benefits can be obtained by engaging the business.
Video – A video can be a very useful tool to explain how your business operates or explain how some key service works. Internet users have become really comfortable using this form of media and video can allow you to convey a lot of information with just one click of the play button.
Testimonials – Short quotes with named sources and photos demonstrating how you’ve helped other customers. This engenders trust. You can have a more comprehensive testimonials page within the site.
Free services / resources – Everyone loves something for free whether it’s a free ebook or a free consultation. If this can help you attract business then it’s worth considering and making it known.
Calls-to-Action – Clear visual indicators for visitors (buttons, icons, images etc) so they can access more information or take a specific course of action such as submit an enquiry, request a call back or access more information. This is critical to help guide visitors through your site.
Internal linking – Linking key text to other pages where visitors can get more information. This, plus good navigation in general, is also recommended “best practice” for search engine optimisation as it enhances the user experience – a crucial part of optimising your site.
Here’s an example of how to compose a home page – maybe oversimplified but it delivers a really clear message to the visitor and invites them to take action.
Some precautions to take for your home page (or any other page for that matter!)
Slideshows/Carousels – These can be useful sometimes for promoting special offers and so on but they can be very distracting and can be ignored as “window dressing” that’s gets in the way of the real content. If you are using them then consider allowing the visitor to manually click through the slides instead of being on a timer. Visitors are not going to wait for that slide to appear again because they hadn’t time to read it the first time.
Be careful with “movement” in general. Do not having things spinning or fading in and out! People are trying to read your web page – they came there in the first place to get information. Some web designers love to show off their prowess with the latest sexy piece of code which does something “cool”. Think of your potential customers – they want information and they want it quick. They don’t really care how your site looks (unless they’re other web designers).
Stock images – These can be very useful for enhancing content and acting as call-to-actions but should not be used just because they “look nice”. They must have a purpose.
A word on smiley people. Yes, it’s good to have photos of smiley happy people who have just availed of your service but don’t go overboard! It will just make your site look completely false.
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