“Did you know that it just takes 8 seconds for a visitor to accept or reject a website?” Isn’t it crazy?
Regardless of your niche or target market, online competition is definitely not on strike. No matter how unique your idea is, someone somewhere is waiting to give you a fierce competition on the web and using every online marketing technique to grab website users’ attention. Since people’s attention span is consistently being clamour for, how do you ensure that you stand out as the ‘Purple Cow’ in your field? Do you have the right elements on your homepage, your main landing page of your website? Does it raise a visitors attention and desire to trade with you? Do you have a captivating headline, engaging content, striking images, call to actions, strategically placed with right balance of form, function, and features to attract, capture leads, nurture and convert to sales?
A website homepage is like a storefront of your business. People assess the value of your services or products through the homepage in just a few seconds. Just like how we subconsciously make conclusions with people and first impressions. That’s why we have put together a simple 9-point checklist for you to make sure that your website homepage has the most important elements to make that great first impression to start.
1. A Company Logo And Captivating Headline
Can a visitor tell within the first three seconds what your business is and become aware of your value proposition?
Ensure that your logo and an impressive headline does this job effortlessly. Try to keep both the elements clean, concise and captivating. For example:
- Montage: https://www.montagebook.com/
The headline and logo are simple yet captivating. Visitors instantly know what it is all about.
- Here is are a few more popular international examples of logo and tagline of brands. We had a look to see how McDonalds or Macca’s is translating this to their website. Obviously, with such an international and visible presence, their website purpose is very different to a small business. What do you think they are trying to achieve with their online presence? Location, recruitment, upsell offers, public relations, responsibility and entertainment.
2. Persona Focus Design And Copy
If you don’t know your buyer persona through and through then chances are you are just adding elements and creating copy for a “fictional” user based on the guesses. The guesstimate is a risky business. The problem is, as this fictional “User” could be a geek or older person with a poor vision, the result could be a cluttered homepage with a heap of features that don’t really suit anyone’s actual needs. Therefore, do a prior research on your target audience, know their behavior and choose the design and copy fittingly. For example:
- The Warehouse: http://thewarehouse.co.nz
Searching for the top website for New Zealand, The warehouse homepage ranks #36 , which is top for category of general merchandising. With their design and value promise as ‘365 day no fuss returns. free click & collect over $30 – shop online & pick up in your local store. huge range of products.’ Who do you think their persona focus is? Notice the top three product categories are clothing and jewelry, home and garden, and electronics and gaming. We think their top main customers are personas are mothers with school kids, young adults in a new flatting situation and remote shoppers living rural areas.
Other top-ranked sites where auction, media and news and banking sites such as Trademe, Westpac Bank and Stuff .co.nz
- Airbnb: https://www.airbnb.com/
A website with a simple search bar for the people who are looking for the accommodation with local experiences – perfect design with no fuss, direct search to book home stays in city areas. There are accommodation list outside of city areas, though the focus is to travelers that want an authentic stay with local hosts.
3. Impeccable Content And Language That Connects
Writing flawless content is a choice that shouldn’t be overshadowed by anything whether its budget or time. Always pay attention to every single word that goes on your homepage because that’s where the real magic starts and pushes the users to read further. Long, boring, redundant and useless content (yes, every word should be relevant and serve some purpose) will only scare the visitors away. For example:
- The Oatmeal: http://theoatmeal.com/
The Oatmeal offers humorous comics and it’s content is witty, engaging and insanely funny. It instantly connects with the users and engages them thoroughly so that they stick around for a longer time.
4. Use Trust Indicators To Build Trust And Assurance
There’s a quote: “When you start a website, it’s not yet a trusted site. So you have to bring people from a reliable site to your site to build up the confidence in your site.” But how do you do that? Well, that’s where customer testimonials, case studies, press mentions; guarantee seals and 3rd party certifications like ISO certifications, etc. play a significant role. Display them on the homepage to create a trust factor with the users. More you add positive trust indicators more you win new users’ confidence. For example:
- 5th Element Dance: http://5thelement.co.nz/
5th Element dance offer bellydance classes as well as entertainment for special events in New Zealand. Look at the way they have posted the customer testimonials on their homepage with both video and written as social proof. A prospective event organiser or dance student can immediately view the emotions from their customers through both verbal and their physical body language.
5. Use Strong Calls-to-Action and capture leads to nurture and convert
The homepage is not just a beautifully crafted page to sit as a pretty digital brochure. While showcasing your products or services, add some tactics to attract the users’ attention and compel them to dig deeper into your offerings. You want to offer some something that they want and can’t resist. Often there it is an expert tip or information that presents you as an expert or quality product to solves a pain that they are expereiencing, or some clear direction or aspiration that you would meet. Whatever it is, you got to know your desired customers language and that would encourage them to take action and give you their attention and request for more.
Strong Calls-to-Action seamlessly guides them toward the right direction so that they don’t get lost in the mountain of information. Strategically placed CTAs is important since they also turn your homepage into a lead generation page.
Consider effective and strong words like “Free Trial”, “Call Now”, “Schedule a Demo”, “Learn More”, “Consult us Today” and so on. These days we talk all about building homepage as a landing page and funnels for products on products offer and page. Think about offering something of value whereby it is of interest and information to your visitor. Once you prospect their interest to receive something of value from you, either free or at a promotional rate, this is where you start your nurture system and channel their curiosity of solve their pain and challenge immediately with an immediate solution.
- Fresh Books: https://www.freshbooks.com/
Look at the compelling CTAs like “Get started for Free” and “Try it Free.”
- Mint: https://www.mint.com/
Since Mint’s primary action is to make the users sign up for them, they prominently used “Sign up Free” CTA in a couple of places.
6. Links to Critical Content is on the Site Menu
Navigation is the website’s “table of contents,” which is considered to be the fundamental pillar of information architecture design. If your website deals with a heap of content, then it’s important that you pay complete attention to the navigation of the website. Decide which navigation bar (like horizontal or sticky) works for your homepage so that the readers ignore no critical piece and learn more about your product and services.
Always remember the content that doesn’t get a reader contains zero value.
Just make sure that the links do not connect visitors to too many other sites or pages otherwise they will distract them and have an adverse impact on conversions and SEO. For example:
- Digital Hot House: https://www.digitalhothouse.co.nz/
Digital Hot House has nicely done the navigation so that the visitors don’t miss out any critical content about the company. Top navigation has more important links like Case Studies, Blog and About Us to provide relevant information about the enterprise’s services.
- Trade Me: https://www.trademe.co.nz/
Since Trade Me is New Zealand’s largest online auction site and trading community, it’s important that all the links on the navigation are easy to find and let the visitors perform their tasks smoothly.
7. Use Image And Videos Related To The Copy
To stimulate online growth and engagement, it’s important to produce interesting and relevant content. Text-based content is definitely an integral part of the campaign however attention-grabbing images and videos are the ones that become the cherries on the cake. But always be cautious before adding tons of images or videos that are irrelevant and could mislead or create dullness for the users.
If you add a video talking about your product or services or relevant images that show how your services could help the readers then chances of getting qualified leads would increase profusely. It is advisable to use content types that could resonant with people. For example:
- Freedom: https://www.freedomfurniture.co.nz/
The Freedom Furniture website has used attractive images of the furniture in classic lifestyle living setting to appeal.
8. Keep It Above The Fold
“Above the fold” could sound a fundamental component in website designing process but it’s very critical. Make sure that all the necessary information; links and most appealing attributes are displayed in the first fold of the page to entice readers to continue to scroll down to the content below the fold. Placing boring, irrelevant or misleading content above the fold would increase the chances of drifting away from your visitors.
- Freedom: https://www.freedomfurniture.co.nz/
The website’s homepage has all the important information and links above the fold to attract the visitors.
9. Keep Testing And Optimising
The designing process should always be iterative. Set a monthly, quarterly diary to run an A/B test, change copy, images, call-to-actions to see what resonates most with users. You can even create two home pages or different product landing pages to test two entirely different site designs and content to see which one is most beneficial in the long run.
Your homepage doesn’t just need “traffic”; it needs “right” traffic. One of the biggest challenges most small businesses face today is attracting the right audience on the website. A well-thought and well-designed homepage with all the right components tailored to the needs of target audience could solve this problem. Give us your comments and feedback if this checklist has been helpful to you and which points are you going to implement. Do share with us your results too.
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This free checklist if taken as an introduction to our ‘Get Digital Marketing– Digital Accelerator 12 week program’.
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