5 Essential Tips for Designing an Effective Homepage
The first page of your website is your best, and sometimes only, opportunity to make a brilliant first impression. Great homepages keep visitors around for a while, to browse your site and increase your sales. On the other hand, poorly designed homepages make users run for the hills – or another, better website. If you want to know the secrets of how to make your homepage stick the landing of a great impression on your visitors, then you need to review these five essential tips.
No. 1: Define and Know Your Goals
Your homepage needs to be a clear, definitive picture of you and your business. Consider your personal style. What kinds of website do you like best: fun and artistic or organized and technical? Visit some websites you like best and use them for inspiration. Draw some homepage concepts on a sheet of paper. Have fun with it.
From here, define your goals before coding a single script or manipulating a single pixel. Write down how many pages you want on your website. For instance, do you want an “About” page separate from your “Contact” page or do you want to combine them for ease of use for the customer? Is your website geared around selling your wares, or do you want to focus on content? These are all things you need to know before you begin -- but you can always change them later.
Once you summarize your goals, begin playing with different designs. Do not just haphazardly throw something together and throw it up on the web. Your design needs to be carefully crafted and well thought out. Make no fewer than five drafts of your homepage. Then, set them aside for now.
No. 2: Figure Out How To Get Their Attention and Make them Stay
Remember, your homepage is the entry point to the rest of your site. While your landing page does not have to be identical to the other pages on your website, there should be some continuity.
This is easy to do. If your site is content based, your homepage needs to present the best content. If your website is sales driven, your homepage should display highlighted wares. When conceptualizing your homepage, think of it like a movie preview. It needs to convince consumers to stay for the entire flick. The easier your site is to navigate and the more “familiar” (like other popular websites) it feels, the more likely you are to get and keep customers.
No. 3: Use Color Strategically
Employ bold, bright colors on your homepage, but do so strategically. Bold colors need to be placed on items you want to call attention to. Consider making your submit buttons a bright green or red or highlighting contextual links you want to draw a visitor’s gaze to.
No. 4: Lead Capture
Let’s face it, most consumers today will use a website for a few minutes and then forget all about it. In knowing this, lead capture for opt-in email lists or recurring marketing is vital to your success. Incorporate lead capture features into your homepage.
For example, you might require a user to sign up for a free account if they want access to your content, or if they want specific deals on your website. While this does require some hefty back end programming, it can pay off.
Another option is to require a user to input their email address or other contact information before they are able to see featured content, or get fantastic deals. Just make sure you have the proper opt-in disclosures on the following page so you avoid trouble with the SPAM police.
The goal is to create a list of users that you can email from time to time, to keep them engaged with your website.
No. 5: Optimize your Graphics
Homepage graphics can be cool, hip, groovy and stylish, but they cannot be too loud, intense or in your face. This is not because your homepage should not be beautiful are artistic, but rather, because it prolongs the time it takes your page to load. If it takes too long to load your homepage, viewers will lose interest and move on to the next site they called up on their search engine of choice. Professionally optimize your graphics by testing them in a variety of different Internet browsers for speed and display.
Your homepage is your first impression, and as we all know, you never get a second chance to make a superb first impression.