The virtual front door to your business, the homepage, is the most important page on your site. This is where you greet visitors and show them around. If you want them to stay, you need to create a welcoming space that’s easy to navigate and quick to load. But, you only have about 50 milliseconds to show visitors what you’ve got – that’s why great copy and design are essential.
So, how do you get started? What should you include? And, what should you avoid?
Why you need an effective homepage for your website
Homepages are the most visited pages on a website. Go on – check your analytics now and see if we’re right! A homepage is like a table of contents for your site. It shows visitors all the key highlights and helps them easily navigate to the page or resources they need.
If your homepage is not optimised correctly, visitors won’t stick around to look at anything else. If it’s slow to load, hard to navigate, impossible to read or not set out well, you will lose sales – it’s that simple.
These homepage stats tell the story:
- There are around 2 billion (yes, billion!) websites across the internet
- 48% of people see web design as the #1 way to determine business credibility
- 38% of people won’t engage with a website if the layout is unattractive
- 39% of people won’t engage with a website if images take too long to load.
See what we mean?
Your homepage does a lot of the heavy lifting for your business. It introduces your site and explains what you do and why visitors should care. It also sets the tone for your brand, helping new customers know who you are and your place in the market.
That’s why you need to take note of these homepage essentials.
More than design: 3 essential elements for your homepage
An effective homepage involves more than just beautiful design. Sure, you want to provide a great first impression, but there are three other elements you can’t afford to ignore.
39% of people WILL leave your site if your homepage is slow to load. Let’s face it, you have probably done it yourself! So, you need to prioritise page speed. Check the current status of your homepage (and get recommendations for improvement) with Google’s Page Speed Insights. Trust us, prioritising page speed will make a huge difference to your traffic and conversions.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) plays a critical role in the success of any homepage. If your site doesn’t rank well, you are essentially invisible online. We are big fans of organic marketing which harnesses SEO for growth, rather than relying on paid advertising. Check out this step-by-step SEO tutorial from HubSpot to raise your homepage profile online.
Quality content is the last piece of the puzzle for a successful homepage. Give people a reason to stick around and explore your site. The best way to do this is through good copywriting – you can have a go yourself or pay for professional help. As a starting point, ensure your content:
- has a purpose
- talks directly to your ideal client
- provides real value.
What should you put on the homepage of your website?
Now we’ve covered the main homepage essentials, it’s time to get stuck into what a good homepage looks like.
7 elements will take your homepage from ‘meh’ to ‘yeah!’
- Heading and subheadings
- Calls to action
- Services/Products Overview
- About info
- Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
- Social proof.
Heading and Subheadings
A powerful heading is a must – especially when you only have 0.05 seconds to play with! A strong heading not only grabs attention – it boosts SEO (with keywords), tells people what you do and sets the tone for the page. Headings don’t have to be clever or witty. The best-performing headings often use simple words to get the message across.
Subheadings are also key. Combine a heading with a subheading to provide more context and help visitors quickly see if you can help. Subheadings are also a great way to include more keywords and help people quickly scan for information without reading everything on the page.
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Calls to Action (CTA)
If you don’t tell people what to do and where to go on the homepage, they will have a look around and move on – leaving money on the table. A call to action (CTA) guides visitors to the next step – whether that’s subscribing to your email list, downloading a resource, booking a discovery call or purchasing a product.
Pepper CTAs through your homepage, starting with one at the top of the page (under your heading and subheading). Use active words to create a sense of urgency – ‘download now’, ‘subscribe today’ and ‘get your free copy.’ Don’t be afraid to use CTAs to link to other pages on your site (‘about me’, ‘our services’, ‘contact us’) to encourage visitors to explore further.
High-resolution images help sell your page and your business. Images are so important to websites that platforms like WordPress and Shopify prioritise them in their themes. High-quality images on your homepage help build credibility, attract attention, showcase your brand and make it easy for visitors to instantly know what you do and how you can help them.
Images also play a role in SEO, allowing you to include keywords in your image alt tags. Now, not all images are created equal. Try to steer clear of stock images (especially the generic kind). Ensure all photos are crisp and clear (low-resolution looks cheap and nasty). And try to create a consistent look and feel, using similar colours and tones.
The homepage is the perfect place to showcase your core products or services. Acting as the hallway to your site, provide a quick snapshot of what you do to encourage people to open the door and explore your online home. Be careful to focus on the benefits of your product or service and how it can solve your customers’ problems.
eCommerce owners: use the homepage to share your main product categories with an image and short blurb.
Service providers: use a table or grid gallery to break down your services so it’s easy for potential clients to find exactly what they need.
If you want a perfect stranger to buy a product or service from you, you need to build trust – fast. And the best way to do that is to introduce yourself as soon as you can. 52% of respondents in a KoMarketing survey said the first thing they want to see when they land on a website is a company’s ‘About us’ page. So why not give them what they want on your homepage?
Introduce yourself on the homepage to create instant rapport and build trust and connection. You don’t need to share your whole life story (please don’t!). Give customers a glimpse behind the curtain to help them get to know you and your company. This is also the perfect excuse to add another CTA that links directly to your about page.
Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) needs to be front and centre on your homepage. Your USP explains your reason for being, what makes you different, who you serve and why customers should be banging down your door! You can feature your USP as part of your header or share it lower down the page with icons and graphics to reinforce your message.
This is a homepage essential that so many businesses fail to include. Sure, you might go into detail about your USP on your about page. But why not be loud and proud about who you are and why you’re the best choice straight up on your homepage?
Reviews, testimonials, logos and awards are all examples of social proof, demonstrating that others like, know and trust you. This shows other potential customers that you can deliver on what you promise and is often a big factor in the purchasing decision. Including social proof on your homepage is a great way to overcome barriers and build the profile of your business.
You can also demonstrate social proof with:
- your Google business profile
- industry-specific directory listings
- a celebrity endorsement
- user-generated content
- credentials and qualifications
- business statistics.
Think before you add these elements to your homepage!
Pop-ups have their place (they are a great way for eCommerce owners to offer targeted discounts) but don’t overuse them. They tend to turn people off, present a risk to site security and slow down your site (which you DON’T want). If you have a pop-up, set a delay of at least 10 seconds so visitors have a chance to look around before your offer appears.
We can all spot a stock photo from a mile away. They don’t build credibility and often cheapen the look of your site. It’s best to invest in custom professional photography – this will set you apart and seriously impress visitors to your site. If custom photography is not in your budget, do a reverse image search to ensure your stock photos aren’t being used by others in your market.
Slideshows and carousels were all the rage a few years back but designers are now moving away from them. Why? Sliders slow down websites and don’t improve the user experience at all. Awesome images are a must on your homepage (don’t get rid of your SEO-optimised images!). But steer clear of sliders – they are not worth the effort and are more trouble than they are worth.
Ready to start refining your homepage?
Experts in WordPress and Shopify website design and development, the team at Naked Digital is ready to set your business up for success with a beautiful, fast and functional website. Our team of digital strategists, copywriters and web developers/designers can build you an SEO-optimised website that looks great on any device and, more importantly, WORKS.