Your homepage is often the first impression your visitor gets of your business
It’s your first opportunity to express your brand, so it should be beautiful, simple, and say exactly what you want it to.
Fortunately, creating a good homepage isn’t hard! However, there are a few things you should know before you get started, so we’ve put together a few of the most important dos and don’ts of homepage design.
Do: Keep It Simple
We’ve seen a lot of companies who pack their homepages with every bit of information relevant to their customers. But that doesn’t work. A busy website isn’t the best way to tell your visitors everything they need to know.
Instead, use your whole website to convey information! Your homepage shouldn’t be your visitors’ end destination – instead, it should help them get where they’re going. Use your other pages to give details, and use your homepage to convey your brand. Make it easy to navigate, so that your users can still get the information they need. A simple, well organized homepage is always better than a busy one.
The ideal homepage is laser-focused on just one thing. Consider Google.com - they have their name, their search bar, and two buttons as the highlight of the page. Everything else is out of the way.
Your homepage should ask visitors to do one thing, and one thing only. Your call to action should be five words or less, following up to ten words describing the product or service you're promoting, and both should be supported by a large graphic appropriate for your industry.
Other basic functions should be limited to the upper-right side of the screen. This includes the shopping cart, any log-in buttons, and basic navigational tools. Users expect to find those there, and the less time they spend trying to find something, the more likely they are to click through and ultimately become a customer.
consider the following:
All contact information should be easy to find. A homepage is a lot like a business card, and if people decide to do business with you, it shouldn't be hard to reach you.
Provide links to your internal pages. You don't need to link to all of them, just the ones you truly want them to visit. This means one link for new visitors, and easy browsing links for repeat visitors.
Remember the "fold," the part of your website people can see without needing to scroll down. Ideally, the information and links you need on your homepage can all be found above the fold. Your homepage shouldn’t rely aesthetically on content below the fold to look great, either.
Do: Be Specific, Provide Examples, and Avoid The Passive Voice
Ambiguity is one of your worst enemies. Avoid it when you can, and minimize its presence when you can't. Instead, get straight to the point and provide examples that support whatever you want visitors to do. Quality images of your products are a great way show off your brand!
Do: Make Your Homepage Mobile-Friendly
It’s 2016. Your homepage should be beautiful on any screen size. As noted by Smart Insights, mobile users have overtaken desktop users to become the largest segment of your potential audience. The upside is that optimizing for mobile will help with your push towards simplicity - mobile users want websites to load quickly, and the fewer graphics you have on your page, the better.
Anything the user is asked to click should be large and obvious, ideally looking like a button of some kind. You should also avoid putting the buttons too close together - this will make it easier for people using fingers (instead of a mouse pointer) to press them.
Mobile devices are tall and narrow, so your website shouldn't rely on horizontal design. In fact, you may want to build for mobile users first, and let your website automatically adjust itself for desktop users. If you’re not familiar with responsive website design, check out our page on responsive websites.
Do: Emphasize Your Value Proposition
Your company's value proposition is what sets you apart from your competitors and convinces visitors that they're in the right place. We can’t over-emphasize how important it is to consider this part of website design - if visitors don't know what they can get out of your site, they're not going to stick around. The best value propositions focus on one of the following traits:
Cost: Visitors who prioritize price tend to react well to value propositions emphasizing how affordable your products are. Show ‘em how your business offers great value!
Quality: Are your products or services the best in your industry? Tell your visitors! Focus on what makes you better than your competitors.
Appearance: Finally, do your customers care about how your products look? If you’re in an industry where appearances matter, your graphics can be a fundamental part of your value proposition.
Looking to learn more about how to convey a value proposition? Check out our 6 Simple Steps to Quickly Creating a Unique Selling Proposition!
Don't: Use Intros
An "intro" is something shown to a visitor before they're allowed to access the main part of your website, sort of like the advertisements that play on a DVD before they show you the menu. This is one part of website design that you can do without. Rather than appealing to your visitors, intros make them impatient and more likely to leave your site.
Don't: Hide Links
In the drive to make an aesthetically-pleasing website, it's easy to do things like make links the same color as the rest of the text. It's true, that can make the page look better... but if your website's design requires you to hide the thing you want visitors to click, then your homepage won’t be effective. If they can’t find it, they won’t click on it!
Similarly, don't make anything look like a link when it isn't. Underlining text can be a good way to call attention to a particular point, but if users think it's a link and it really isn't, the only thing you're going to do is confuse them.
It All Comes Down to User-Friendliness
Users should never have to learn how to use your site, spend time searching for the links they want, or be confused about what to do next. Your homepage is the first thing many of your potential customers will see, and your goal should be to make their experience as smooth as possible.