Thinking of a website facelift… but are short on time and/or money? Well perhaps its best to focus on the homepage design first. After all if you loose a first time visitor they may NEVER come back.
Stay Or Leave? If you have ever planned your own website you will know the anguish of deciding how the homepage design will be most effective. Below are practical tools to implement when giving your homepage design a facelift.
1. BASIC WEBSITE PRINCIPLES
The golden rule of homepage design is to truely connect with your visitor then guide them a range of options to interact with your business. The aim is to keep it simple – cull, edit and simplify as much as possible. Every single word and image will impact on whether your visitor stays or leaves. The main aim then is to only include information that is relevant. This means the content needs to solve a problem, provide contact details that are easy to find, the brand proposition and design style should ‘fit’ the aspirations of your ideal consumer.
To steer viewers in the direction of the ultimate aim (call to action) we start by considering the flow of the page anatomy. Bear in mind most people’s (in the western world) read left to right and top to bottom. Also, homepage design can be divided into 2 main areas:
When the visitor lands on your homepage they will be looking at all the content ‘above the fold’. Hopefully they will then scroll down to discover what is ‘below the fold’. Above the fold includes the necessary information to encourage further enquiry.
The concept of ‘above the fold’ is more relevant when viewing a website on a desktop computer or tablet. When it comes to mobile phones the key is that the most important information needs to be towards the top.
2. INFORMATION ANATOMY
Defining sections and deciding what the most important information is, will guide the foundation of your layout. Start by listing all your website homepage needs. Then rearrange the list in order of importance from top to bottom. Finally organise each piece of information into sections, remembering to keep the key information above the fold and to cull, edit and simplify as much as possible.
3. WRITING CONTENT
To connect with your target audience you need to understand their ‘pain points’ and provide a solution. Use this guide to define EACH pain point…
1.Who is the target audience?
2. What do you provide that is relevant to this target audience?
3. What is the biggest problem facing this target audience?
4. What is your solution to their problem?
Now take those answers and rewrite it so that the visitor will WANT to read it. Think about the tone of voice (authoritative, inviting, suggestive) and the style of writing (serious, friendly, quirky). Then break that into clear headings, subheadings, choose some highlighted snippets of the most important information, bulleted list of text and one or two paragraphs. Lots of bites sized chunks of information are more readable than large blocks of text.
Remember to also write your content so that it is SEO friendly. Be sure to write at least 300 words (but 500-600 is better) to incorporate into homepage design – Google likes that. If you need more information check out my ‘6 Best Ways To Improve SEO’.
4. ENGAGING IMAGERY
Choosing the right photos tells your customer A LOT about your business values and the type of person you are.
Some businesses will need a ‘hero’ image (or set of rolling images or a video) to help the customer visualise the product in action and communicate their unique selling point. A food product, a restaurant or a photographer, for example, will need very prominent ‘hero’.
The images your choose should always ENHANCE your brand image. If they are not good quality or not relevant, then ditch them. There are plenty of photo libraries where you can purchase professional images and even some quite nice free photo’s too.
5. THE DESIGN
You can choose a theme that has a template layout but that won’t connect to your customer. It doesn’t encourage a purchase or an enquiry, although it will make the design process easier and faster. The design features on your homepage will set the style for the whole site. Here are the basics of homepage design principles you can use as a guide.
Logo – communicates your business DNA, the proposition your business offers and attitude to customers.
Typography – choose two to three fonts and use these consistently throughout.TIP: use the same font but vary the weights and cases for a cohesive look.
Colour Palette – create a suite of colours before you start. This should be based on your brand identity. TIP: you will need at least one light and one dark colour for contrast.
White Space – be generous with your white space, especially if you have a lot of text. It is much easier to read black text on a white background than any other colour. TIP: setup a template with all your spacing guides before embarking on the website design.
Visual appeal – supporting graphics (other logo’s, illustrations, photography) are best sourced in advanced and selected carefully to compliment the brand proposition.
6. WHAT WILL YOUR VISITOR DO NEXT?
Sure we want to convert visitors into potential sales leads but the hard sell ‘used car salesman style’, may turn a huge audience away. Guiding visitors into the site is important but a respectful and irresistible call-to-action will have a more positive effect. Often it is best to use gentle language, be really clear with what do you want the viewer to do and simply guide them with a short clear statement. Both these styles work but your brand personality should guide which you choose:
People expect to find what we’re looking for in seconds. If they just need your contact information, then make it easy for them. Your phone and email should ALWAYS be prominent in the homepage design. Often a basic enquiry will turn into a sale.
If you have a secondary goal to collect leads for the future like signing up to your database, it is best achieved as an exchange. Offer the viewer something tangible in exchange for their email address: 10% Discount, FREE Handbook, 10 Best Tips… ect. If you aspire to a bigger database then be sure to check out our article on how General Data Protection Regulations to ensure you are complying with regulations.
Look out for:
1. Make sure your brand proposition is crystal clear – a genuine belief in your product or service will make the sale.
2. With so much riding on your homepage design it is easy to over crowd it – apply the KISS principle: keep it simple.
3. Never use poor quality photography. You goal is to entice a sale not show people you are unprofessional.
An effective home page will encourage the viewer to engage with your business.The content should be clear and engaging, help the viewer comprehend your solution to their pain point, then capture an emotional response. Images should capture the viewers attention. Whether you want to impart knowledge or are seeking an enquiry, connecting in a genuine way to your customers needs will be crucial to a successful call to action.
They way your visitor experience your website is crucial but if they cannot find your site then all your good planning will be useless. Ensure your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is covered, especially for your homepage. Learn more about SEO with my simple outline of the basics.