The homepage is the most important page of your website, and even though we know it’s very important to get it right, it’s easier said and done. But what we know is that we don’t want to screw it up.
It can be a bit tricky to see your own website from the outside. To help see it in perspective, think of these two scenarios:
Worst case scenario
You visit someone’s homepage, get all confused or frustrated and you almost immediately leave the page.
Reasons for leaving a page are usually because:
- You don’t understand what service is provided
- You feel that the website doesn’t really talk to you/connect with your feelings
- It’s mission impossible to find the stuff you are looking for
- It’s one big clutter of images, colours and messages
- (Or it’s slow to load or not mobile-friendly, but we will talk about that in another blog post 🙂 )
Best case scenario
You visit someone’s homepage, and you’re suddenly on the edge of your seat, and can’t stop reading.
Reasons for loving a page are usually because:
- It speaks to you like it knows exactly what you’re frustrated or worried about
- You just found the solution to your most stressful problem
- The website makes you feel they know you, and you found your new best soulmate friend
- It has the perfect solution served to you on a silver platter
So, since I think we all agree that we really, really want to be in that second category, so let’s see what we can do to achieve that effect. How can we influence what people notice first, and what impression and message they get?
Let’s start with the practical parts:
1. Have things where people expect them to be
Start with structuring your website in a way people are familiar with:
The logo is usually recommended to be in the upper left-hand corner. The reason for this is that statistically, this is where visitors naturally look first. They also expect that clicking on the logo will bring them back to your homepage.
The menu is best to be on top of the page, which is where your visitors expect to find it, and should ideally have between 5 – 7 items. More than 7 items will be too much, and you can easily lose your visitors’ attention. (Links to other pages you can put elsewhere or as sub-menus).
The menu items people recognize and are used to by now are the following:
- About page (statistically the second most visited page)
- Work with me
Less is more, and there is no need to try to impress visitors with fancy flash or trying to stuff all the content into one page. A simple, clean and organized homepage gets your visitors’ attention quicker and has much more impact than a jungle of messages and calls to actions. Having knowledge about what a good homepage needs, also makes it a lot easier to choose a theme (if you need help with this, you can read about how to choose a WordPress theme here)
After the top part of the page, where you have a menu and logo, you will have the main messages, preferably written in a few impactful sentences.
2. Connect with their emotions
- What you do
- Many businesses forget to be clear about this very important information. E.g. if you are a coach, you would want to specify what kind of coach you are. A business coach, health coach, relationship coach?
- Who you do it for
- Also, many don’t specify what they are specialized in. Who is your target market? Are you helping entrepreneurs, single mothers, people going through a divorce? Whoever is your market, let your visitors know that they’ve come to the right place, and ensure them that you are the one who is an expert at helping people just like them.
- Which problem you solve
- Having done your market research, you know what their biggest challenge is, and what solution would seem like heaven to them. Let them know that you know what their problem is, and how you can help them. Connect with their emotions: What do they feel right now, and how will they feel after getting your help?
- In this blog post I give you some market research guidelines to help you achieve powerful messages on your homepage.
- What you want your visitors to do next (call to action)
- Visitors need to be guided through your website – tell them what to do next. Contact you for a consultation, sign up for your blog? If you ask, you get 🙂
Keep messages to a minimum and easy to understand. For a homepage, you have only a few seconds to capture your visitor’s interest to read more.
When you manage to get them excited and feel that you have a solution that will make their problem go away, you are on the right track. I’ve got another blog as well on the topic: How to make your visitors look beyond your homepage
Visitors see what is simple to read, and visible at first sight
- Plan for a simple and clean design
- It does not need to be extravagant and impressive technically
- Avoid that they have to scroll to see any key messages
- Use images that your visitors relate to
- … and preferably a photo of yourself
- Being the sole owner of a business, you as a person are the business, and the more people feel they know you, the more they are inclined to want to work with you when you have built up their trust
4. Ask for feedback
Like most things, you would want to get some reliable people to review your page and tell you what impression they get. When I say reliable people, I mean people in your target market, and people who you know have experience and success in the kind of business you are about to start. Read my blog about how to ask for and deal with feedback here.
Your family and friends may have a lot of opinions, but may not be the best ones to know, so keep a clear head. And also watch out for that frequent unsolicited advice, which you can read about here.
Do you have an experience to share about homepages? Do you know of website homepages that have captured your attention at first glance? Or the opposite – which ones made you leave right away? What were the reasons? Do a bit of brainstorming for your own homepage, and please share with me your thoughts in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!