What You Need to Know to Create an Effective Homepage

What You Need to Know to Create an Effective Homepage

The homepage of your website is the ‘online window’ to your business. It’s the most highly viewed and linked web page which brings traffic to the homepage more than any other page. To create an effective homepage, it must be designed with the answers to these questions in mind for any visitor who lands there.

  1. Who is the business?
  2. What does the business do?
  3. What can I (the visitor) do here?
  4. Is this business a good fit for me (the visitor)?
  5. Could this business possibly help me?

A visitor to the website will only devote a short amount of time to work out the answers to these questions before deciding whether to stay and scroll or move away.

This article will explore an effective structure to apply to your homepage and the elements it should include in order to answer the visitor’s questions above.

Before focusing on the actual structure of the website, it’s important to understand the psychological approach to the creation of a homepage before looking at the structure.

Resource: How to Use Psychology to Create the Best Homepage

 

The Structure of an Effective Homepage

The structure of your homepage needs to be clear so that the visitor can easily know:-

  1. The purpose of your business
  2. The problem you solve for clients
  3. How can you solve your client’s problem
  4. What action do you want potential clients to take

The purpose of your homepage is simple and that is to get your visitor to go to a second page. On a first visit, it is unlikely that a visitor will follow a call to action or make an immediate purchase. People like to conduct thorough research to find out more information and to make service and product comparisons before moving further towards taking more direct action.

Google coined the term Zero Moment of Truth or (ZMOT) which is the period of time where the buyer is researching their buying decision even before the seller is even aware of them. The buyer’s need at this point is quite acute and they are seriously looking to make a purchase to help them with the problem they have.

Whilst the potential client is in this acute state of mind a well structured and presented website with a clear purpose and information that is easy to find will be effective. Compare this against a homepage where there is an overload of distracting information displayed in an unclear manner with no clear call to action and information that is hard to find is going to perform worse in comparison. The visitor will move on swiftly to another website to continue their research..

Let’s look at how to put together a good homepage structure to help you achieve this.

 

The Homepage Structure

Navigation

At the top of the page is your navigation area. This area should be kept clear and simple and easy for visitors to find their way to where they want to go next. The names of the web pages in the navigation should be meaningful and easy to understand.

Include a call to action in your navigation such as a call to action button or a phone number to take visitors straight to the next step if they are ready to have more contact with you. This makes it easy for them to take the action they want without having to scroll down the page to find it.

 

A Clear Value Proposition Statement

A value proposition statement answers questions about who your business is, who you can help and how. The value proposition statement normally consists of a headline and a sub-heading in the very top section of your website.

Resource: How to Write a Great Value Proposition, HubSpot

In simple terms, your value proposition statement should consist of: –

I/we help [type of client] to [the problem you solve] by [the results they want]

Here are some good examples of value propositions. They are clear about who they help, what problem their ideal client has and how they can help to solve the problem.

Content Boost VP example

Visit Content Boost

Dubsado value proposition

Visit Dubsado

Automation Ninjas VP example

Visit Automation Ninjas

Make it Clear About What You Offer and Who For

Generally speaking the amount of copy on a homepage will be less than other pages on a website. At this point, you want clear and concise information about what problem you solve for potential clients. An overview of how you get them from A to B, the options of services and products and how they can move to the next step.

 

Calls to Action

Make it clear about what calls to action you want visitors to take. It’s important to give choices but to keep the choices to a minimum. On a homepage, if you have multiple choices or products, I recommend that there are no more than three ways that visitors can go from a choice of calls to action. To be effective concentrate on your 3 core products or services. Any more options than that will leave visitors overwhelmed with choice and so they end up taking no action at all.

Make sure that the choices that are available are clear to follow and are unambiguous.

In this example below, The Content Marketing Academy (CMA) and The Membership Guys make it very clear that there are three different ways of working with them.

CMA VP example

Visit CMA

 

Membership Guys CTA

Visit The Membership Guys

 

Supporting Images and Video

Let people know who you are to build trust and credibility. Have images and videos of you on your website so that people can get to know who you are and begin to get to know you.

Don’t forget though that this is not an opportunity to show off and make the content all about yourself. Remember that anyone who visits your website will approach it with a WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) attitude.

 

Social Proof

There’s nothing better than social proof and client stories to help your visitor to understand how working with you can help them. It’s far easier to identify with someone else’s experiences who may be in the same shoes as you. It also validates you and your business as being someone who is trustworthy and credible. I always recommend at least two items of written social proof on the homepage, although remember to keep it brief. You might need to use an extract from a longer testimonial and keep the full-length version for your testimonials page.

Depending on your business, you may want to have a section where you include the businesses that you have worked with. I think this can work well visually with a row of logos. This is a clear way of adding more social proof in a concise way.

 

Secondary Calls to Action – Resources

This is a great addition to offer helpful resources to people who are not ready or interested in your main offering. This can be as simple as a small extract of your latest blog posts on the homepage or a downloadable resource, such as a lead magnet. A lead magnet is a good way to offer visitors an uncommitted next step of having contact with you without making direct contact. This is the perfect opportunity to be able to educate your subscribers to help them with the problem they have and at the same time establish your credibility and authority in your area of expertise.

 

Benefits not Features

Outline the benefits to your audience that they will experience by using your products or services. Clients may not be as interested in the detail of features, especially if they are visiting your website for the first time. The features or more technical aspects of your service can be discussed in more detail in other pages on the website. At this starting point on the website, you need to address the immediate problem, how you move clients from where they are now to where they want to be and ultimately make them feel better.

 

The Footer

The footer element of the website is just as important as anywhere else on the homepage. This is another area to incorporate signposting, a reminder from further up in the website of what the next step is that the visitor can take.

You can include signposting to key pages such as your contact page or popular services or product pages as well as external links to your social media. You can include other information such as professional associations you may belong to or qualifications you might have. Having more signposting at the bottom of your homepage saves the visitor having to scroll back up to find the key information they might need. 

 

What Makes an Effective Homepage?

A Summary

The main takeaway from this article is to make sure that the information on your homepage is delivered in a clear and concise manner which is easy to consume. It must have clear calls to action which are not distracting to the visitor.

The aim of a good homepage is to help educate the visitor in their buying decision. It’s about providing relevant and helpful content, with evidence and proof to help them make an informed choice about whether your business can help them solve their problem. In helping them to make a buying decision it also gives the opportunity for them to find out if you might be a good fit to work together. Remember, you are not everyone’s cup of tea and nor should you try to be.

Let’s review the questions at the beginning of this article. As an exercise, take a look at your own homepage and imagine YOU are your potential customer. How do you answer the following questions now?

  • Who is the business?
  • What does the business do?
  • What can I (the visitor) do here?
  • Is this business a good fit for me (the visitor)?
  • Could this business possibly help me?

If your homepage doesn’t answer these questions easily, then look through the sections in this article to see if you can improve on what you have.

If you’re feeling stuck (and it’s always harder to do your own website!) then let’s have a chat to see if I can help steer you in the right direction.

 

Imogen Allen

Imogen Allen

I work with businesses to develop websites which create the best customer journey. A website which will help, inform and transform prospects into clients by sharing knowledge and building trust with a human approach.

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