You may have a lot to say on your website, but your customers need to be able to find it. Provide too much information at once, and you’ll either throw them off the road or send them walking back out the door. Leave things out and viewers won’t give the site a second thought. A good homepage requires a delicate balance that needs to be planned thoroughly in order to succeed.
The overall goal of any website is to provide information. It’s also imperative to deliver said information as quickly as possible. There are so many avenues to take. There is the customer journey to consider, as well as the mobile experience. Most importantly, a successful homepage needs to be well organized from navigation to footer.
First Up: Clean & Simple Navigation
Do: Only highlight the most important pages of your website.
Don’t: Overload your navigation with links to every single page from your site. Yes, this includes dropdowns.
The Paradox of Choice
This is another instance where you need to take the customer journey into consideration. If it’s their first time on the site, how easy is it for them to find what they need? You may think that supplying them with all the choices will make it easier. More often than not, though, the user will just end up overwhelmed.
You also need to keep the mobile experience in mind. Every item in your navigation, even those nestled under dropdowns, is going to be displayed on the mobile menu. If you have 8 tabs and each tab has 5 items underneath, the user is going to have to do quite a bit of scrolling to get to that last option. That, or they’re going to look elsewhere for the info they need.
A much cleaner way to provide users with every possibility at once is adding a search function. As long as your pages are tagged appropriately, users will be able to find exactly what they’re looking for in their own words.
When handling a more robust sitemap, I recommend also implementing some secondary navigation. This is a great alternative to dropdowns because every option ever isn’t going to be displayed on every page. The 60%+ visitors on their phones will subconsciously thank you.
Put Yourself in the Customer’s Shoes
Do: Prioritize content and organize accordingly.
Don’t: Give into the temptation of covering your entire website in one, convoluted page.
Play to Your Strengths
Don’t add things like reviews and calendars to your homepage for the sake of adding things. A newsletter form is great, but only if there’s appropriate follow-through. Keep it focused. Keep it authentic. Cultivate a site (and a brand) that builds trust and users will keep coming back.
Sometimes this means a shorter, more concise homepage. If you’re worried about SEO- stop now! That’s not the purpose of the homepage. The URL and information you do provide your site with a solid foundation. Add a footer containing key information and a decent SEO paragraph and your homepage is ready to be found.
Start Strong. Start Focused.
Do: Lead with a single header containing a strong call to action (CTA).
Don’t: Have a slider with endless unique slides.
Why? We’re Goldfish.
Sliders are, theoretically, a great way to showcase a lot of information in a smaller space, but tend to fall short in actual practice. In this day and age, attention spans are shorter than ever. You’ll be lucky if a handful of people ever stick around long enough to see more than two slides.
This doesn’t mean sliders are completely off the table. Maintain a sense of consistency by either rotating images or the call to action- just not both. My personal preference is to rotate photos behind a single message, like Girls Inc. of Indianapolis’s new website.
All Paths Lead To Your Website (Not Away)
Do: List contact information in the footer.
Don’t: Oversaturate the page header with every outlet of communication.
Yes, This Includes Social Media Icons
Notice how I haven’t mentioned these until now? That’s because your Facebook and Instagram should be used as a means to drive users to your website…not the other way around. Please don’t distract visitors so close to the finish line. Drop those icons down to the footer instead of the top of the page.
Much like those icons, an address at the top of the page distraction. For me, it’s both faster and more efficient to search Google Maps for a specific address than to search Google and/or a website first. Some will come to your site for this info, but typically not enough to warrant coveted header space. Instead, list your address in the footer and on the contact page. It’ll help SEO spiders find you more easily, too.
So What Can Go in the Header?
If the majority of communications are had by phone, link the phone number in the top header. If email is more efficient, create a swift path to the contact page or include a lead form. Once again, only include information that’s truly relevant to assisting users to reach you at the top of the page. Save everything else for the footer.
TL;DR (too long; didn’t read)
Your homepage needs to be concise. Your homepage needs to be organized. Most importantly, your website needs to make sense to your users. Sure, there’s no one size fits all solution for the “perfect” homepage. If you follow these simple rules though, you’ll be off to a good start:
- Only place the most pertinent CTAs and contact information in the top bar
- Keep your main navigation simple and utilize secondary navigation on interior pages (when necessary)
- Focus on a main call to action for your header- even if you’re using a slider
- Less can be more… the customer journey > SEO (on this page, at least)
Still Not Sure if Your Homepage is Up to Snuff?
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