Blink and They’re Gone: Everything You Need to Know about Effective Homepage Design

Jul 10 2014

The typical visitor only spends 3-5 seconds on a site before deciding whether or not to take action or move on! A homepage is your company’s first impression in the digital space and is responsible for clearly communicating your message and value proposition to all users. So what can you do to make the most of your short impression window? Take the time to design a homepage that will make the best possible impression and continue to offer value to all of your users.

The 7 most critical elements of a great homepage

Load time: A homepage that loads slowly creates dissatisfaction, leads to frustration, affects your search rankings and reduces conversions. Within four seconds 25% of visitors are likely to abandon a site, and 80% of those visitors will not visit again. A page that is slow to respond (more than 1 second) reduces conversions by about 7%. Would you really want to lose 7% of your online sales revenue because of a slow website? To speed up load time carefully consider your site structure, graphic content size and ensure that your caching system is optimized.

Organization/Navigation: Navigation should be clear, simple and efficient. Tailor the structure of your site to anticipate and accommodate your target audience. Make it easy for your users to find what they are looking for, and eliminate any hassle associated with lead nurture or completing their path to purchase. Interestingly, visitors spend 80% of their time looking at information above the fold, so create a hierarchy and prioritize accordingly.

Content: At a quick glance, users should be able to understand what your company is all about, what you offer, how you are unique from your competitors, and where to navigate for further information. While detailed information may be most appropriate for secondary pages, homepage content should be clear, concise and easy to scan. Headlines are particularly important as they help people find what they are looking for. In fact, the majority of users scan headlines before deciding where to click, only 20% actually read the first paragraph. Homepage content presents a valuable opportunity to connect with your user personas. Implementing a conversational tone, avoiding jargon and adopting an inclusive style (‘we’ instead of ‘you’) are all effective ways to accomplish this.

Calls to Action: CTAs are critical to your lead generation and conversion efforts. They should stand out, be easy to find, clearly written with action-oriented words, and specific to your offering. Calls to action direct your users and help answer their most burning question: “What do I need?”

Visual design: Visuals are a great tool for explaining complex ideas, setting the style for your page, communicating your brand’s culture, and creating a unique experience for your visitor. However, when used incorrectly visuals can slow your site, distract visitors from your goals, and create confusion. When using visuals on your homepage remember that clarity trumps complexity.

Credibility: At the most basic level your homepage should take users where it promises to. Broken links, non-existent content and missing pages reduce a visitor’s trust. Beyond that, the homepage should help visitors decide why they should choose you over other options. Including customer reviews, testimonials, privacy policies, trust seals, etc. are a great way to do that.

Responsive Design: It’s no secret that more and more people are browsing sites on mobile devices. Regardless of industry, mobile visitors are here to stay. 33% of mobile research starts on a branded website and mobile browsing is particularly high in the e-commerce sector with 4 of 5 consumers using smartphones to shop.

Test, test, and test: Testing will provide you with critical feedback on whether or not strategies you implemented are working the way you want them to. After putting in so much time and effort it is tempting to treat your homepage like a finished product, but periodically testing your site, vetting through the data in Google Analytics and implementing the corresponding findings will help ensure that your homepage stays in fighting shape. By mastering these essential elements your homepage will stand out not only because it meets your users’ needs, but because it allows visitors to transcend the minutiae of hunting for information and be delighted by the experience of finding it.

For great examples of homepage designs from different industries check out this article by Hubspot.

Learn more about mobile design and website design.

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