December 11, 2017
A good homepage is essential to a good website, and a good website is essential to a great small business. Below are five must-have ingredients to a good homepage that are easy enough to do yourself, but so subtle that they are often forgotten.
Your homepage may be a potential customer’s first encounter with your brand, so it should reflect the look and aesthetic of your business in a way that exudes quality and attention to detail. A trashy looking website tells the consumer that you don’t care about putting time and energy into detail. Make sure that the general aesthetic, logo, and slogan are consistent across your entire brand; this includes your domain name, social media, storefront, packaging, blog, etc. Keep your design simple and recognizable. Less is more. If you don’t have the time to update something regularly (like a Twitter feed or a blog), then ditch it. A customer will notice neglect more than they’ll notice absence.
Calls to Action
Don’t miss a golden opportunity to turn a casual visitor into a customer. The best way to do this is by providing a simple way for them to contact you, in a visible location, right on the homepage. Anticipate the visitor’s desire to take the next step, and always have an answer directly in front of them. Remember that a potential customer may not be ready to commit right away, so include ways to make them a repeat visitor or a subscriber. No one goes digging through pages to find social media, so have your social media and e-mail list easily accessible on the homepage. Create immediacy by offering discounts, updates, useful information, events and sales in exchange.
Consumers increasingly base their financial decisions on research they’ve gathered online and, as we all know, online research is overwhelming. Giving your visitors a straightforward user-friendly experience will help you to stand out from the rest. There’s a reason that neutral backgrounds and clean lines have become ubiquitous. It’s classier to simply present a quality product than to bombard a visitor with information. Some big businesses have the luxury of packing a lot into the homepage because visitors already know what to look for. As a small business, visitors may not even know what you’re selling. Instead of launching into an explanation, concentrate on the feeling of the homepage, and provide buttons and menus that lead to the explanatory information once they’ve had a chance to get oriented.
Don’t try to revolutionize the world of web design with your homepage. Save that for the experts and professionals. Just tell the visitor what they came there to know: Who are you and what are you offering? How do I get the thing you’re offering? How can I ask you any additional questions? Don’t make visitors go to other websites to find out simple details like your business hours. You don’t want to lose traffic because you’re missing key information. You might even consider listing your prices right there on the homepage. Customers appreciate forthrightness. If they go elsewhere for information, one random review that you were “expensive” could turn them off of you forever. Give them a chance to see the prices up front and decide for themselves.
Depending on your industry, you may want to give the mobile design of your homepage priority over the desktop design. If you’re a body shop, for example, people will be typing ‘body shop near me’ into their phones and visiting your site primarily to find automotive service prices and promos. If your mobile version is wonky or hard to read, your mobile-optimized competitor could win by default. Equally important is your loading time. Make sure your host’s bandwidth can handle whatever videos, apps and images you’ve included, and keep software updated. Aim to get it under three seconds.
Good SEO is basically a natural side effect of good design and content. Shady tactics could get you blacklisted on Google, and that’s not worth it. Focus on showing Google who you are (and that your website isn’t garbage) by including relevant internal links, relevant external links, featured images, tasteful use of keywords and updated software. That’ll take care of the fundamentals.
There are so many great inexpensive and free tools out there that building your own website may seem like a no brainer. But there is a reason that people are paid good money to design websites. It’s easy to get distracted by the bells and whistles, but remember to stick to these essentials and you’ll have a homepage to be proud of.
Tori Galatro is a freelance writer, blogger, content manager, and editor. She works with both B2B and B2C companies, as well as non-profits, and publishing houses. She manages a link building campaign for Pricelisto.com. She’s written guest posts for more than 20 different blogs in wide-ranging fields including tech, business, marketing, education, and lifestyle.