7 Home Page Essentials
As a business and marketing coach, I evaluate a lot of websites. I typically find the same set of problems – problems you can avoid if you get these seven essentials right:
1) Let your visitor know they’re in the right place — immediately.
Studies show you have just a few seconds to communicate your message before your visitors decide to bail or hang out a little longer. So it’s obviously critical that you make it clear to your ideal customers that they’re in the right place, and that you do it FAST.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re a functional medicine doctor who helps menopausal women balance their hormones. Your tagline might be “Helping Women Stay Active and Vital” and the main copy on the page would say “Feeling tired, cranky and fat? It doesn’t have to be this way. You can lose weight, get your energy back, and feel great again with my XYZ hormone balancing program. Schedule your appointment today.”
2) Include a call-to-action.
Did you notice how I finished with “Schedule your appointment today” in the previous example? That’s called a call-to-action. It’s essentially an order – you’re telling your visitor exactly what to do.
It might seem bossy, but in fact, bossy-ness works on the web. You need to give simple and clear instructions, or your visitor will likely do nothing at all. That’s why you see things like “Click here to order” and “Call 1-800-555-5555 right now” and “Enter your email to download this free report”.
3) Communicate benefits and outcomes.
Think about it: Your visitor doesn’t really come looking to learn more about you. They come looking to find out what you can do for them.
What problem will you solve for them? How will their life change as a result of working with you?
Communicate this clearly, from your visitor’s point of view. Notice how in the functional medicine example used above, I specifically identified benefits and outcomes that the patient will experience with the program.
4) Keep it clear, focused and easy on the eyes.
Ever visited a website that was crammed with colorful graphics and mountains of copy in tiny font? Made you want to run for the hills, right?
Don’t clutter up your home page with too much information. Keep the copy focused. Make it obvious who you are, what you do, and more importantly, how you can help.
Design-wise, keep your home page clean. Whitespace is your friend. Use a big font size and a limited color palette. People tend to scan on the web rather than read every word, so break copy up into small chunks by using bullets and short paragraphs. When in doubt, edit it out.
5) Ask for their email.
Always collect first names and emails! This is called an opt-in. Give your visitor something awesome in exchange, such as a great article, white paper, report, ebook, video, cheat sheet or checklist.
6) Let your visitor know how to interact with you.
Get your social media links and plugins installed. Allow comments on your blog posts. People want to connect, and connection is a two way street. Encourage your visitors to get in touch, ask questions and share their thoughts with you.
7) Use design strategically.
Let’s say you want to communicate to visitors that your brand is fun, playful and approachable. Instead of saying “Hey, we’re fun!”, you can let your design do the talking.
For example, do you help hip, busy moms prepare healthy, fresh meals for their families? Then design your site so that it looks feminine, hip and fresh. Your design can go a long way in communicating who you are, what you do, and whom you help.
Oh, and one more thing – resist the urge to use stock images of models looking beautiful and happy. Usability tests show that visitors prefer real pictures that are relevant to your topic, even if they aren’t as pretty.