Designing a homepage for your business can be a daunting task. How on Earth do you tell your potential customers what you do, how good you are at doing it, what you’ve already achieved, and why they should contact you – in just one page? You feel an almost overwhelming urge to just dump as much information as possible onto that page and make it sing and dance for you. As a result, you give your web designer an impossible brief, and end up with a crowded mess. Nobody’s happy, and your business suffers.
The right way to go about it is usually to ignore your own instincts, as difficult as that can sometimes be. You’re looking for something clean, sharp, minimalist, and to the point. All your homepage needs to do is get the viewer’s attention. Once it’s done that, they’ll click around your site and find the information you want them to find, and they’ll do it of their own free will.
Here are four tips on getting your business homepage right at the first time of asking. Either incorporate them yourself, or pass them on to your poor, stressed web designer!
1. Be Restrained With Use Of Color
We’ll give you a possible exemption on this if you’re an art studio, or if you’re launching a website for children, but everybody else should pick two or three colors as a maximum, and stick to them. Too much color on a page is distracting. You also run the risk of having colors that clash or glare, and driving readers away from the page before they’ve had the chance to read anything.
Having a limited palette of colors allows both you and the reader to focus on the message of your product. You probably already have a logo, and that should be used as source material for your color scheme. Your website should be an extension of your brand, and that includes the colors you choose to use. What colors do you mostly associate with Coca-Cola, for example? Guess what colors they use on their website? That’s exactly what we’re talking about.
2. Be Clear About Your Message
We’ve already talked about not overloading the home page with content. You want something that says who you are and what you do, and that’s the message that should be displayed clearly. Nobody who visits your homepage should be in any doubt about what kind of business they’re dealing with, and in what field they operate. You want to display your logo, a high quality image that’s either of you at work or illustrates the type of work that you do, some contact information, and links to other pages on your site. If you have a motto, or an inspirational quote that you like to use, overlay that on the image. That’s it, nothing more.
We’ll use another example. Imagine visiting a VIP Casino, seeing that homepage, clicking on any of the links and finding yourself on a web page about basketball. You’d be completely confused. It’s a gambling website, and every link you can click on from the homepage will take you to a gambling-based page. It’s clear and consistent about its message. That’s what you’re aiming for.
3. Organize Neatly
Because you didn’t go into too much detail on your homepage, you now have plenty more information that you want your customers to see on other pages of your site. You can probably think of a hundred things that you’d like to tell them, and you want all of them on your website. Again, resist the urge to communicate all the information that you have right away. Most customers will spend less than a minute on your website, even if they like it. That just isn’t long enough for you to get across everything you want to say, so you need to focus on the headlines. Don’t worry about leaving smaller things out; your best salesperson is still yourself. The objective is your website is to get customers to contact you. You can tell them everything else once they get in touch.
For the overwhelming majority of web pages, only four or five pages are actually required. First, an ‘about us’ page, where you should explain in bullet point format your history, your achievements so far, and your company ethics and values. Second, a ‘services’ or ‘products’ page. Obviously, this will contain whatever you’re selling. There might be a hundred links on this page, but only one link from the homepage to bring customers here. Customers should only see your products or services when they’ve chosen to, otherwise they’ll feel like they’re being pushed towards them. Third, a ‘contact’ page. Your telephone number and email address/web contact form should already be on your homepage, but this is where you put the detailed information; your address, a helpful map, all your social media contact information. Fourth, a blog, and keep it up to date. Regularly posted fresh content helps with your rankings on Google. Fifth, a testimonials page, so potential customers can voluntarily go and see how much your existing customers love you. That’s it. There should be one link to each of these pages on your homepage, and they should either run along the top, or be accessed via a drop-down button.
4. Don’t Integrate Social Media Feeds
It’s increasingly common to see social media feeds – especially Twitter – integrated into the homepage of business websites. We’re not fans of the idea, and we’ve got good reason not to be. There seems to be a misapprehension that allowing your Twitter feed to display on your homepage counts as fresh content, and fools Google into thinking you’ve updated your page. It doesn’t. That’s why your blog is so important.
Social media feeds just don’t gel with the layout of your home page. They’re blocky and ugly, and take focus away from the hard work you or your designer have done to make everything uniform and elegant. They also break occasionally, and when they do, visitors to your site will just see a broken homepage and consider you to be amateurs. If you must have a live feed on your website somewhere, save it for the contact page. Our advice would just be to have a link to the Twitter account on your contact page, and not have a feed running through it at all. Sometimes a little separation is good.
Your homepage is your website’s welcome mat. It invites people to wipe their feet and get comfortable before they step in. The welcome mat outside your front door doesn’t contain a detailed inventory of the contents of your home, and nor should it. Bear that in mind, stick to the above advice, and you’ll be fine.
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