What to Put On Your Home Page
I’ve done this hundreds of times with myself and with clients. I sit down at the computer and all the things I want to say on my website come crashing down upon me. My thoughts are like an abstract painting. It’s all there, but with no order, just bits and pieces of great ideas that aren’t fully formed. Then the question finally arrives at the forefront of thought. “What do I put on the homepage?”
It’s easy to go look at someone else’s site and duplicate the layout, or use a template and fill in the blanks. But this is YOUR site! While looking at others for inspiration is great. The best websites aren’t following everyone else. They are taking their own content and formatting it in such a way to make the layout their own. But before we get to actually laying out a site, we need to look at the elements that should be on the homepage and then the layout will virtually create itself.
What Role Does the Homepage Have?
The first place we need to start is to understand what role the homepage plays in the overall website strategy. Many may see it like an index page to the rest of the website. A kinda ‘table of contents’ if you will. to direct people to where the real content is at. If that approach is taken, then you’re leaving all the good stuff up to chance hoping a visitor will find it amongst the links and other content.
“The primary role that your homepage plays is to build credibility and as quickly as possible with your visitor,” according to our friends at Guelph Website Design. Once that credibility is built, they are more likely to move on to other pages to learn more about your products and services.
The other key role your homepage plays to foster interest and/or curiosity. If the content on your homepage is relevant and timely to the visitor, they will be looking for more information on your site.
Using Your Homepage as a Sales Page
You may be thinking that shouldn’t the homepage be a sales page or landing page? Yes, that is an option. However, it really depends on the goals of your website and overall website strategy.
A landing page or sales page by definition is a page focused on one primary goal without distraction of other intruding elements. If you have a single goal for your website, or have a simple product or service you’re offering, then a using your homepage as a sales page may be a good idea.
If your business needs to have it’s content flushed out more, then it’s usually a better idea to create a more standard type of homepage. What I mean by that is by having multiple pages such as about, services, blog, contact etc.
What to Include on Your Homepage
Your homepage is the most important page on your website as it is the page that most of your traffic will first land on. Therefore, it’s important for it to do its job as mentioned above – build trust and credibility.
This includes your company logo and primary navigation. While I know it seemes obvious here, but please don’t get creative with placement. Placing your logo on the right side instead of the left throws people off. A tip to website conversion is to place elements where users expect them to be. When someone visits your site, the first thing they look at is your logo to see what the name of the company is or to ensure they landed on the right site.
With regards to the primary navigation in the header,
Also referred to as the ‘Hero Image’ the feature area is the section directly under the header and/or navigation that includes a large image, a headline, some text and a call to action button. This s where your value proposition is placed.
The feature area needs to be particularly strategic as it’s the visitors introduction to your company and website. If one of your primary objectives of your website is to build a list, then using the feature area to add an optin form can be a good strategic approach. It can help avoid popups and put your lead generator directly in front of your visitor.
As I mentioned earlier, your homepage is about credibility. One of the best ways to do that is to place testimonials on your homepage. They can be arranged in columns (3 or 4 across), or you can use a slider that cycles through a greater number of testimonials.
If you don’t have any testimonials to display, not to worry. you can leave them out, but I recommend creating a process to gather testimonials from your clients so that they can be added to your site.
While we’re on the subject, many prefer to add a ‘Testimonials’ page. I don’t suggest that as a testimonial page isn’t targeted towards a particular product or service. A better approach is to scatter selected testimonials throughout your site inline with the content that the testimonials speak of. It’s more effective than a completely separate page.
Recent Blog Posts
Displaying the most recent three or four blog posts on the homepage not only adds credibility, but positions you as a resource to your visitors. If your blog posts are written with some strategy in mind, you’ll endear your visitors to you by sharing helpful information to them.
Last but not least, Your products or services should be listed on your homepage. Typically, they are near the top of the home page under the feature area. One of the burning questions that need to be answered as quickly as possible by your website is ‘what do you do?’ By quickly being able to see specifically what you do, then the visitor can scroll through the rest of the homepage to get a feel for your company and be inspired by all the credibility on display.
There are a number of different elements and ideas as to what can be placed on your homepage. What’s important to keep in mind is credibility and curiosity. One lesson in marketing that I’ve learnt is that the goal to any headline or piece of online content is to get people to the next step in the sales process. Your services are mentioned on the homepage so the goal is to get them to click on the button that provides more details and in the end, gets them to the primary goals of your website. Does your homepage accomplish this goal?
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Randy Dueck | Founder Street Smart Creative