Are people getting to your website and then leaving immediately? The average user spends only 4 seconds deciding whether to stay on your website or return to the search results, and that means you have just 4 seconds to sell your brand. Your homepage needs to make a strong first impression—fast. This guide shows you how.
Define The Purpose
What does your company do? Why should people care? Turn the answers to these questions into a concise, compelling headline, and make it big! Your website visitors will often have no knowledge of what your company does, and they’re not going to hunt around to find out. Remember, you have only 4 seconds. Make your purpose clear.
As a general guide, here are the first three things your visitors need to see when they reach your website.
What Your Homepage Needs to Include
1. Your Branding. This includes your company name, slogan, logo, and color theme.
2. What You Do. Make this headline clear, concise, and compelling.
3. Call-to-Action. Tell your visitors how to get started!
Don’t Make People Think
We live in a world of 140 character tweets and abbreviated text messages. People don't read anymore—instead, they skim. Long paragraphs and small font sizes may cause your visitors to lose focus and move on. Except in rare cases, your homepage should answer questions, not raise new ones. Yes, it's good to educate your visitors, but there's a time and place for everything. Don't let your visitors get lost in vast amounts of text or a convoluted purchase process. Focus on your main points and make them clear, succinct, and easy to follow.
Guide To Writing For Skimmers
1. Use bold, clear headlines and sub-headings.
2. Break down long sentences and paragraphs into bullets and lists.
3. Focus on action. Write only what is needed to prompt your visitors to act.
Your call-to-action tells your visitors what to do. This will vary depending on your business goals. Do you want your visitors to purchase a product, call your company, request a quote, sign up for your services, or do something else entirely? Your job is to make it “stupid easy” for your visitors to take this action.
The Stupid Easy Call-to-Action Checklist
1. Make sure your call-to-action is “above the fold.” Your visitors should see it right away.
2. Make it clear. Tell your visitors exactly what to do—call, email, buy, subscribe.
3. Make it urgent. Your visitors need to take action now. Tell them why.
4. Make it easy. Your visitors should be able to take action in one or two quick, easy steps.
5. Make it stand out. Your call-to-action needs to be the most eye-catching part of the page.
Simple and Clean Design
Don’t clutter your homepage. Your website's design should draw attention to the elements we've mentioned above—branding, headline, and call-to-action. Whitespace, which is also referred to as free space or breathing room, is important, as it helps to separate different parts of the page and makes the whole thing readable.
Beware of gimmicky, flashy design elements. Beware of distractions like too much text and too many colors. There are a lot of cool things your website doesn't need. The most effective designs are simple, clean, and easy to navigate.
It's no secret that mobile phones are taking over the world. Over 10% of all web browsing occurs on mobile devices, and this percentage is increasing. But mobile devices have much smaller screens than traditional personal computers. As a result, smartphones display websites differently than, say, laptops. And let's not forget about tablets, which are also sized differently. If your website is designed only to fit a computer screen, it won't display properly on a mobile phone.
There's a solution to this problem. It's called responsive design, and it allows your website layout and content to adapt to fit the viewer's screen. In today's mobile word, responsive design is essential.
A "click-to-call" phone number is another essential for mobile users. With a very simple bit of code, a text phone number listed on a webpage can become a clickable button that will automatically dial your number into the user's phone when pushed. This is the fastest way for a mobile user to initiate a call, and your homepage definitely needs it.
Your website’s photos need to be large, relevant, and eye-catching. If you're selling a physical product, this is even more important. Your photos need to make your visitors say, “I want that!” Photos that are dark, blurry, pixelated, unclear, poorly composed, or simply uninteresting will hurt your brand and prevent sales. Invest in professional photography. It's more than worth it.
If possible, offer multiple photos of each product, taken from various angles. This will give your viewers the ability to judge the quality of your products without physically being able to see or touch them.
Once you have simplified your homepage and implemented a clear call-to-action with minimal text, ask people for their opinions. This usually takes some humility. A great tool for feedback is FiveSecondTest.com. Simply upload a screenshot of your homepage and set some questions you want people to answer, such as “What does this company do?” Testers have five seconds to view your image and must then answer the questions you have set.
Friends, family, coworkers, and other professionals can all offer great feedback on your homepage. But keep in mind that your goal is to grow your business, not create a work of art. Before implementing any suggestion, think it over and consider what effect the change may have on your website's performance as a marketing tool. Changes that help make your website clearer, simpler, and easier to navigate are good. Changes that add clutter or obscure the purpose of your business are bad.