Your website’s homepage is your company’s calling card. For most company websites, the homepage is the single most visited page. And since the homepage is referenced by the company’s root domain – yourcompany.com – it is often the easiest website address to promote and for visitors to remember. The homepage also sets the tone for the content on the rest of the site and serves a utilitarian function to introduce the navigation and other technical and design features.
To add to the pressure, your website homepage needs to do all of this in about a minute. So, as you set out to redesign your company’s website, let’s first bust a few myths.
Your homepage is not a sales page. It does not need to sell anything, push anyone, or make any crazy claims.
Your homepage is not complex, complicated or super long. At least it shouldn’t be.
Your homepage is not really about text. Yep, I said it. Text-heavy homepages won’t engage visitors for long. Your homepage is actually more about design… and using text strategically to get results. Save the long descriptions for your inside pages.
So, let’s take a look at what your business website’s homepage needs to do in the visitor’s first minute.
3 Seconds: Capture My Attention
You’ve probably heard the statistics. You have three seconds or less to capture someone’s attention when they land on your homepage.
But have you thought about what that really means?
- They won’t scroll… so you better hook them above the fold. The term “above the fold” refers to the days of print journalism when the most important story in the newspapers had to be above the fold in order for it to be seen.
- They won’t wait for your page to load… so you better keep it simple. People have short attention spans. Even with the proliferation of high-speed internet, viewers want web pages to load quickly. Fast load times also hold benefits for search engine optimization. Large graphics, videos or other features that require special plugins will turn away visitors and hurt SEO.
- They won’t watch your video… so you better have another plan in mind. Even if your corporate video is a cinematic masterpiece, the prime real estate at the top of your web page is about earning the attention of your visitor, not about promoting your business. Save your video for further down on your homepage.
The most important part of your homepage is at the top, and it’s important that it be visually pleasing and mentally engaging. Capturing attention means concise, impactful, memorable copy combined with a graphic design element that ties it all together.
7 Seconds: Welcome Me
Capturing my attention only gives you three to seven additional seconds to make me feel welcome. If you do that well, then I’ll be hooked enough to scroll further and watch the video or click around to learn a little more. I’m making a judgment about your personality and the tone of your business. I’m deciding if I belong here.
Your task is to create an atmosphere in keeping with your brand voice and to clarify what you do. More specifically, what you do for me. I’m not really interested in a headline that tells me that your company makes widgets. But I’m very interested if your headline says your widgets solve my problem. I don’t need all the details just yet (because there’s not time for that), just a quick snapshot. I need to know I’m welcome and I’m in the right place. Only then might I click deeper into your website.
50 Seconds: Guide Me to Take Action
Once I feel welcome, you have less than a minute to engage me and inspire me to take action in some way. If you don’t get me to do something before I leave, you’ll likely never know I was there… and I might not come back.
Be very strategic about the calls to action you give on your homepage. Don’t rely exclusively on your main menu to guide me. Call out features of a few important inside pages with links that make me want to dig deeper into your site. Make the next steps simple and very clear.
Here are some best practices…
- Offer an opt-in freebie (downloadable whitepaper, research, calculator, etc.), so I can join your list.
- Give me options to click and learn more about who you are and what you offer.
- Guide me to your blog and your about pages.
Putting Together Your Homepage
Now that we’ve cleared up a few myths about the homepage, let’s get to work! Remember, your first goal with your homepage is to capture my attention. You have three seconds or less to capture someone’s attention. So you’ll need something interesting above the fold on your page.
Your next task is to make me feel welcome and create connection. Your website is a conversation with potential clients, and their first stop is often your homepage. Think of it as making a good first impression.
Once you’ve made them feel welcome, it’s time to inspire them to take action. Just like in a conversation, you need to engage the other person. If they leave your website without doing something, they might not come back.
Answer the following questions to help you prioritize your homepage content:
- How will you capture attention above the fold? Rather than describe what you do, highlight the solution you provide. As the adage goes, “sell the sizzle, not the steak.”
- What action do you want website visitors to take first? Some visitors may be looking for a quote, while others are just doing initial research. Provide different next steps to appeal to visitors at different stages in their buyer lifecycle.
- The products you make or the service you offer solve a problem for your customer. If you had to describe that solution in one or two sentences, what would it be?
- Imagine you’re a talk show host and you need to introduce a special guest. That special guest is YOU! What would you say to introduce yourself?
- What offers do you want to present on your homepage? A helpful resource, in exchange for a visitor’s email address, is a great way to capture contact information and nurture the most qualified leads.
If you’re considering a website redesign, contact Heinzeroth Marketing Group for a free website analysis. We’ll review your current site and discuss with you changes that can help achieve your business goals.