14 Crucial Factors Your Homepage Needs [A Detailed Guide]
With the many different portals and platforms that people access a website, I often wonder if there really is a homepage anymore. We tend to access websites through various channels and land on various interior websites.
My philosophy? Every page should be treated like a homepage.Every page should be treated like a homepage. Click To Tweet
Unlike a home’s entrance, which we as digital marketers like to use as an analogy, a website has multiple points of entry.
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But what information do you need to add to your website’s homepage?
Where people land depends on your internet marketing campaigns and funnels. If you are performing any Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns, you are most likely sending people to specific landing pages based on the user’s search.
If you have a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign, Google indexes more than your homepage so, again, depending on a person’s search, they might end up on that phrase related to that search. For example, if I search ‘Houston Emergency Plumbing’ I don’t expect to be sent to a homepage with general information. I expect to find specific details on what to do, who to call, and any next steps.
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But, from a traditional sense, your homepage is still the front door to your company. It is still the most visited web page but a number of people landing on your homepage can range widely from 10% to 60%. Again, depending on your current internet marketing campaigns.
What your homepage is not
- A place for your mission statement.
- A place for your history.
- A place to immediately ask visitors to subscribe to your newsletter.
- A place to list every single product and service you provide.
So what should you include on your homepage?
Short answer? It depends… I know. Don’t you hate that?When wondering what to put on the homepage, ask yourself these 4 important questions. Click To Tweet
When users arrive at your website, people need to be assured that they have arrived at the right place. Then the message should be consistent and up-front. Be very, very clear who you are and what you do. Build trust and rapport the second your visitors hit your website.
2. What is the most important goal for your company?
As you look at your homepage, be sure that your company’s primary goals are front and center.
Here are some examples:
- Do you need to build your brand or authority?
- Are you wanting to draw attention to a new service or product?
- Is it direct sales to a specific product?
- Are you needing to increase your leads by a specific percentage?
- Does the business need to improve customer retention?
- Are you hoping to educate your users?
- Are you working on building a relationship with your customers with email newsletters?
- Is there an event that you are promoting in the next few months?
Once you understand the larger business goals, start to outline them and drill down to smaller action items. What needs to happen to accomplish these goals?
3. What is most important to your customers?
Consider that your visitors have arrived because of a problem. Your job and the reason your company exists is to solve those problems. If I come to your website, how will I know you are the right person for my specific problem? How will you show me?
Your brand and your website goals should align with this specific purpose.
Here are some things to consider:
- Understand your lead and sales funnel or rather what is the decision-making process that your users undertake before they call you or hire you?
- Do you find that they need time to research your company to gain some trust? So maybe send them to your case studies or reviews.
- Is there some confusion about your services in the marketplace that you could help them make a decision.
- Are you users a little wary and untrusting? How can you win them over? Will testimonials help? Is accreditation important? Will videos of you and your team help them trust you?
4. What should be your customer’s next steps?
Based on the items in section #2 above, what do you need your customers to do to accomplish these goals? Then combine that with #3, your priorities.
Prioritize them as you go from top to bottom. The first priority might be a phone call to schedule an appointment, then maybe your case studies or reviews. If you need to focus on a new service, maybe an entire row of content with a photo and a button to ‘Buy Now.’
I know for many customers, a very clear ‘Start Here’ button is helpful for those businesses that might have a complicated sales process. Give them simple steps like Step 1, Step 2, Step 3.
Remember, your website is always evolving. What you have now should reflect current goals. In 3 or 6 months, do those warrant updates to the homepage?This is why your website is never be finished. As your business needs change, your website should reflect that. Click To Tweet
Then again, each of these can apply to your landing pages. Speak directly to your customers and what needs to happen.
Essential Items Your Homepage Should Have
The website should convey to visitors what it has to offer in at least 3 seconds. Therefore, keep your headline simple and clear. It should provide a clear description of your business and the products and services offered. This should be squeezed to 2-3 powerful, memorable, and concise sentences that target the visitors’ needs. Avoid fluff.
To design a header use clear and readable fonts. The text should be readable at a glance. Choose a perfect layout that flatters the website logo. Visitors will see the header first, so having the logo is also essential. Use distinctive design elements that express the company’s persona.
A website logo is partially part of the header. Having a logo makes it easy for visitors to identify your website, even with a glance, especially if there are multiple tabs opened. A logo is at the core of your company’s branding and identity. For those who are familiar with your website, your logo becomes a signal that they have arrived at the right place. On a website, the logo doubles its functionality as a link to the homepage. It functions as a home button, which takes visitors back to the homepage with one click.
The navigation button is the primary user interface for any website. How you design your homepage navigation can bring a difference between a converting and bouncing website. If you have a content-heavy website, including a search box, it is important. The navigation button should be easy to locate and use, even for new visitors. To decrease your website’s bounce rate, give your website visitors a clear path into the site using the navigation. It should be visible at the top of the homepage, with links organized in a hierarchical structure.
Phone numbers are crucial to a website homepage. For instance, if you operate a home service business, the number of phone leads will likely outnumber those from contact form submission. To justify this, no homeowner will think of filling out an online contact form when his or her furnace stops. They will simply dial the company’s number without wasting any more time. Try to make it stand out and not hide it. You know how frustrating it is to hunt for a simple phone number.
Where should the phone number be placed? The best way is by testing it in different locations. For instance, you can put it on the top-right side of the page or the sidebar or maybe, again, on the footer.
5. Crucial User Links
Crucial user links are sections like the login link or the cart icon for e-commerce stores. User links such as “login” buttons make it easy for interested customers to sign up and log in to their accounts. This mostly applies to membership-based websites. Similarly, we recommend including a “cart” button or icon for online shoppers. The cart icon allows your users to skip straight to the purpose of the website… submit an order. No cart icon or link? That’s a hindrance and you’ll lose customers. When creating these links, make them as simple as possible but easy to find and understand.
After the headline and logo, the homepage banner is another thing that most people see once they check into your website. For this section, the small details can quickly help your users understand what makes you different under that 3-second rule. It helps establish the calls to action or what makes you unique. A killer banner might combine high-quality photography or graphics, color, and the right balance of introductory message.
The issue becomes that many banners can be ignored or are misused. It becomes the highlight of the show and website owners want to show off everything in this small space.
It can also get ignored, like white noise. We are so used to seeing it on every other website, we tend to skip it on homepages. I am not saying you should not create one just use caution when putting too much information into it.
7. Primary Calls to Action – PCA
The main goal of a homepage is to compel visitors to do something on your website. I don’t care if your website is a basic brochure website meaning it merely lets people know you exist. It doesn’t matter, every site needs a primary call to action. Your users want direction and these PCAs are how we accomplish this. Examples might be to make a phone call, fill out a form, or subscribe to a newsletter. It depends on your customer journey and where they are in the buying process. A Primary Call to Action helps you determine the website’s ROI.
8. Secondary Calls to Action – SCA
Secondary calls to action provide additional conversion opportunities for potential customers who may not yet be interested in your website’s primary objective. I recommend ensuring that the secondary CTAs are visually striking, ideally using a contrasting color or an image that visually directs users’ eyes. Keep the statements brief as well, with less than five, action words.
Examples might be to encourage users to dig deeper into the website or, back to the PCAs, asking users to submit information. Thus, you should include two or three SCAs that direct people toward the sequential stages of your buying cycle or customer journey.
9. Supporting Media
Websites are visually based. That’s obvious. And most website users are also visually inclined. That’s obvious too.
What you need to ensure is that your images play a solid role on your site and don’t just improve its visual quotient. Meaning, don’t add photos just to add photos.
But sometimes website owners forget that adding supporting images help get your message across quickly but to choose them judiciously. Since images capture emotions and can inspire action, the right photo can make or break your homepage.
What media could we include?
- Featured images appearing as a thumbnail image that accompanies a blog post title that is pulled into your homepage.
- Images like icons or illustrations that quickly highlight service features and benefits.
- A 30-second video highlighting the company’s uniqueness or culture.
- Banner photos that reflect your target market.
- A visual hook to replace text. Sometimes text is helpful but going through text-heavy content isn’t very enjoyable. What if the text was replaced with images? These pages hook visitors as nothing else can.
10. Clarify Your UVP
The UVP or your Unique Value Proposition, also called the Unique Selling Proposition, is a statement that explains to website visitors how you are uniquely qualified to help them. Your UVP is a key marketing tool explaining the relevancy and specific value of any company’s products and services. It merely summarizes how your products and services will address their current needs. Often, your banner contains your UVP. Since this is the first thing that clients might read when they visit your homepage, avoid catchphrases, slogans or generic statements.
11. Social Proof
Lately, you might have heard about Google’s struggle to ensure that websites are legitimate. Part of their algorithm is to look for specific website cues like social proof to point to a website’s validity.
It’s not just Google, but your customers are also looking for these cues.
Social proof is a powerful indicator of trust. Social proof includes elements like vendor logos, companies you have worked with, earned media, links to published articles, business credentials, and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) statements.
(FOMO statements are those little pop-ups that show 3rd party reviews or if someone has completed a form or bought a product.)
Add a few of the best social proofs on your website homepage.
It’s all about credibility.
You could be producing the best products or offering unmatched services in the world. However, this is based on an unsupported claim, which people may not believe unless they see other people’s statements. This is what social proof does.
I am adding testimonials as a separate item from social proof because I want to bring them to your attention.
Testimonials boost the conversion rates of visitors by adding legitimacy to your website and making people trust you enough to contact you or complete a PCTA.
An excellent online review would hopefully include customer experiences, customer photos, if possible, video reviews and quotes. Some website owners may be tempted to write fake testimonials, which often backfires. Modern website visitors are getting good at recognizing when someone has added a fake review.
Learn more about how to generate more reviews as well as respond to them.
13. Lead Generator
To market your services successfully, you should put in lead generation programs. It all goes back to your calls to action. This involves attracting and converting strangers or prospects and earning their trust and interest enough that they give you their prized personal information like email and phone.
Lead generators that you can add to your homepage include ebooks, special reports, webinars, coupons, checklists and guides, or anything that your target marketing could use. These should be quick wins for your audience.
We simply want their name and email, maybe a phone number. More importantly, this section should be tied to either an email marketing tool or a customer relationship manager.
14. Your Own Content
Apart from using your homepage as a landing page that attracts and converts leads, you can vary slightly and create an educational tool. As mentioned in #11, Social Proof, Google is looking for specific cues. If you are sharing your information and becoming a leader in your industry, sharing your content can ensure your status as an expert.
Unlike other standard websites, prospects would have to click on the “blog” or “services” categories to find more information about what they were looking for. However, you can include highlights of your blog posts, short videos or 3-D animations on the homepage. You can showcase recent posts with their headlines, featured images, or descriptions followed by the “read more…” caption.
Finishing off with an informational footer is of importance, just as the header. Once the visitor gets to the end of your homepage, they should be greeted with three items; contact information, social media integrated links and links. Contact information encourages the website visitor to get in touch with you. Social media integrated links is the best way to convince visitors to check your social media pages and possibly engage with the company on other platforms. Besides, it adds to the company’s social proof, especially if the visitor clicks on your social profiles.
A website’s homepage should wear several hats. Rather than having it like a dedicated landing page and centralized around a specific action, design it to serve various audiences. This means incorporating several elements that attract traffic, invite conversions, and educate visitors.
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