Creating or redesigning a website can be a painstaking process at times. You might be going through a slew of concepts and revisions just to get the right content on the page with a design you like.
The most frequented page of your site is almost always going to be your homepage, making it crucial that it incorporates the right elements to encourage visitors to engage. Your homepage is often the first impression you’re giving potential customers – you do want to put your best foot forward, don’t you?
We’ve taken a look at some successful sites and come up with some of the key factors of an effective homepage.
Reflect Your Identity
As far as a new customer is concerned, you are your homepage. What does that mean? It means your homepage needs to accurately and effectively communicate your brand to visitors.
Obviously your site needs to communicate your brand from an aesthetic standpoint. A corresponding color scheme can work wonders for that, just look at Best Buy or Target. However, it goes further than just color. You need to clearly differentiate your brand from your competitors.
While major, known brands such as the two aforementioned companies have already established their roles, it’s vital for smaller companies to make it clear what they’re offering. Let people know what your company is all about and why you’re a cut above your competitors.
Identify The Purpose Of The Homepage
Different businesses have different goals, and the same holds true for homepages. Whether you’re trying to guide visitors to a contact form, a product page, or information pages, make sure your homepage guides users to the right places.
By the same token, you don’t have to try to complete a conversion right then and there on the homepage. What you should be more concerned with is that your site is nudging users towards the pages you’d like them to visit.
Displaying featured products or services on your homepage can go a long way towards helping users quickly access the parts of the site that they, and you, would like them to go to.
Don’t Hunker Down Your Site
A potential customer can quickly become just another passerby if your site is failing to load quickly. To this end, be smart when setting up your homepage, particularly from a technical standpoint.
Never underestimate the importance of reducing the time spent loading images. To this end, take advantage of compressing the images used on your site. A great way to do this is using Yahoo’s Smush.it tool, which losslessly compresses images. WordPress users have it even easier as they can just install the Smush.it plug-in and allow it to automatically compress all uploaded images.
Additionally, the use of CSS sprites can be a huge help. The use of CSS image sprites will group your images together, thereby reducing the number of HTTP requests that get made to load your site. If you’re not sure of what images to combine into an image sprite, you can use this nifty little tool, Sprite Me, which suggests which images on your page should be combined.
You’d like people to at least be able to see what you have to offer before they make a decision based on the strength of your site. Make sure your site affords them, and yourself, that opportunity by loading quickly and keeping their attention.
Remember, as stated earlier, the homepage is often your first impression and your most frequented page. A sub-standard or ineffective homepage can seriously hurt your chances of producing conversions, whatever kind they may be. The tools and examples provided throughout the article can be extremely helpful in improving your site.
Hopefully some of these tips will help to optimize your homepage and get you on your way to increased business.
If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to let us know in the comments below!