The Guide to a Good Homepage
What is the role of a homepage, and what makes one an effective entry point into a company? Well, the short answer is that the homepage’s goal is to offer a solution to a problem in a way that engages a potential customer while introducing the brand.
Many homepages miss the mark by running into one of these three common traps:
- They have the wrong focus. People don’t care about the characteristics or features of your product or service, particularly on your homepage. At this point website visitors simply need to know that your product or service will solve their pain point or improve their life. (In an article last year, we talked about hierarchies of content on a website. The short version is that, as people click through your website the information should become more detailed, but on the homepage the content should be quite high-level.)
- They don’t communicate their message clearly and succinctly. Chartbeat, an analytics and optimization company, estimates that visitors will leave if they fail to find a reason to be hooked on your site within 15 seconds. Put another way, once you find the right focus for your homepage, it has, on average, just 15 seconds to convey that message to new visitors.
- The company’s product or service is bad. If the thing you’re selling sucks or it doesn’t solve an active need in the marketplace, then no amount of greatness on your website will help you improve sales.
In this blog article, we’ll take a closer look at an effective framework for your homepage.
While many visitors may enter your site from landing pages, for most sites the homepage retains a significant portion of entrance traffic so it’s important that it make a great impression. While a landing page is laser-focused on its singular goal of conversion (typically for a single, specific product, service, or action) the homepage is less narrow. It should allow for frictionless conversion if a visitor is prepared, but it should also offer more detailed information about the company. If necessary based on the breadth of your offerings, the homepage should act as a “fork in the road” to segment visitors into distinct interests or positions within the sales funnel. With the differences between landing pages and homepages out of the way, let’s dive into what makes a great homepage in more detail.
Headlines are often the first text seen at the top of the page. They are frequently paired with an engaging hero image. In this example from Coros, a logistics company, the background image is actually a moving video. The result is an engrossing scene above the fold with a simple and punchy headline that succinctly delivers the benefits. In this case, implicit within the headline is the idea that logistics in the future will be improved from the logistics of today, when there are frequent problems and pain points with the process.
Call To Action
The homepage CTA is tricky because it can be difficult to nail down a visitor’s purchase intent at this stage. On the one hand, the best homepages provide lots of information for visitors that are completely unfamiliar with the brand, but on the other we don’t want to impair conversion from those users who are ready. That dichotomy drives our typical recommendations for homepage CTA: one option to learn more and one for visitors that are ready to convert. Most of the time, they shouldn’t be equally weighted paths but you’ll need to determine whether your company is best suited to emphasizing a learn more CTA or a purchase now CTA.
In this example for Hume Supernatural Deordorant, the headline and initial CTA emphasize learning more, and that probably makes sense because deordorant is a relatively commoditized product, so the company may need to share more info on why potential purchasers should consider their brand over Unilever’s dozens of options. On the other hand, just below the fold and easily accessible with a very small scroll, the two deodorant bottles each have a prominent buy now button available to convert traffic that’s ready to buy immediately.
In this example, the two CTA options are next to each other right in the hero module of the page. Sign Up is the more prominent for taking concrete action, while Book a Demo offers a more educational option for those who might like to learn more before committing to the service.
Beyond the immediate CTA, the next step of a great homepage is to demonstrate the company’s authority within the space in which they operate. The idea is to convince people that this product or service is capable of solving their pressing problems.
Here’s a few examples of ways to do this:
- Testimonials from customers
- Logos of companies that the brand has worked with
- Data around number of users or transactions
- Awards and accolades
- Images of the team members and their credentials
Linear is an application for tracking bugs and managing development projects. They have two of these techniques on their homepage: logos and customer testimonials.
Storytelling with Engaging Images
Homepages don’t need to be short to be sweet. It’s ok for them to be fairly long, provided that the information remains loose (not dense or detailed) with links that provide more specific information where necessary. The key to a longer homepage is a set of engaging images that show the brand story rather than tell. (In this way, it’s important to note that liberal use of images will make the homepage even longer…that’s ok, again, as long as text isn’t too dense.)
This example from the Ruby Company shows three value propositions on their homepage, each paired with a large and engaging image and small amounts of simple text with a button that leads to more information about that topic.
The most successful homepages must capture interest quickly and help site visitors (and prospective customers!) to understand what the company does, how the company can help them, and how the prospective customer can take the next step. Keep these examples and best practices in mind and watch your site’s engagement skyrocket for visitors beginning their session on the homepage.