Creating a homepage that hooks them in
By Kathleen Aoki
Here are some important concepts to help you design a great homepage and hook visitors in from the first glance.
Your homepage is your first impression with visitors, undoubtedly making it the most important page on your website. Like a regular storefront, it should be attractive and well-designed. But even more importantly, it should be easy and intuitive to use and navigate.
Because most web searchers demand instant gratification, a good homepage strives to provide a visitor with exactly what they are looking for as soon as they land. Conversely, busy, confusing and poorly-designed pages can put off visitors, prompting them to go elsewhere.
How people search for information
Studies have shown that people do not read web pages in a linear fashion. Like browsers in a store, they quickly scan for information and will click on the first link that satisfies their goal. If that link does not produce the result they are after, they will click back and search again. Basically, it's an intuitive process.
With that in mind, here are some important concepts to help you design a great homepage and hook visitors in from the first glance.
Your homepage clearly states who you are
Your homepage should clearly and immediately convey what your site is about. Are you a seller of bespoke cowboy boots? A purveyor of edible flower arrangements? Make it clear. If a 12-year-old can understand your business from your homepage, you're on the right track.
Provide a clear road map and call to action
Once a visitor has landed on your page, it should be instantly obvious where they should go to find the information they are after. For example, if you sell accounting software for small businesses, your homepage could (and should) include:
- An answer to who you are. For example, "Welcome. You've landed at the home of the best accounting software for small business owners in Australia."
- Links or buttons to see a demo or screenshots of the software.
- Links or buttons to download a trial of the software.
- A clear selection of menu items presented in a logical and hierarchical manner.
- Easily locatable contact information.
The elements on this homepage work by telling first-time visitors who you are and providing a call to action. They immediately see what to do and where to go.
Don't annoy your visitors
It's important not to test your users' patience and goodwill by requiring them to fill out forms or fend off pop-ups, annoying flash animations or music when they visit your site. You want to decrease barriers to entry and engagement, not create them.
Keep it simple
While there may be exceptions to this rule (and there always are), it's often better to err on the side of simplicity where website design is concerned.
Make your site mobile-friendly
We live in a mobile age, so make sure your homepage is optimised for mobile devices, or risk losing valuable customers.
While website design is both an art and a science, sometimes requiring the help of skilled professionals, the principles above should get you started in the right direction for creating homepages that entice customers.