Components of an Effective Homepage
There’s really no other way of stressing the importance of how people experience and interact with your homepage. The cliché saying is that the homepage is the “first impression” users’ receive of your website, or your brand for that matter. Well, the reason why clichés are clichés is because they typically reign true over and over again.
An effective homepage is one that makes your company stand out from your competitors, while also presenting the most important details about the product(s) and/or services you provide to your customers. If the ultimate goal is to get people on the web to spend their time, money, and/or effort with whatever it is your company has to provide, then your homepage serves as the best place to communicate why they should.
In order to have your homepage truly speak to users and effectively communicate the benefits you can provide to them, ensure that your homepage design includes the following:
Addresses What Your Company Is And Does
Seems like a no-brainer, right? If you’re a company with a ton of brand awareness (the Apples and Nikes of the world), then there’s probably no need to do this. But startups and small to medium sized companies still need to answer questions like “Who are you?” and “What do you do?” Make it easy for your users and potential customers, especially new ones, by answering these questions on your homepage.
Ideally, you’d want users to think, “Oh, ____ is a _____ company and they do _____… Cool!” in a matter of seconds. You don’t want any friction throughout the time a user arrives to your site and starts to explore, or else they’ll bounce right out. Try and utilize bold, straightforward headlines and relevant imagery and/or videos to make it as clear as day for your users.
Places The Most Important Information Above The Fold
Think of this aspect as being directly related to the previous one. The area above the fold, which is everything that is shown immediately after a webpage loads within your browser window, is very valuable real estate for your website. If the homepage itself is the “first impression,” then what you decide to place above the fold will be the difference maker.
Think of it like if you were to wear a sweatshirt and jeans versus a suit and tie for a job interview at law firm. That may not be the best example to make, but my point is that people’s attention can be lost quickly. And like I mentioned earlier, if there’s any friction between the time they click on a link and when they get to your site, it’s more likely that they’ll bounce right off your site.
Demonstrates Why Users Should Do Business With You
Okay, so you’ve got them to land on your homepage. Nice! Now they’ve gotten an understanding of who you are and what you do, and were drawn in to the content above the fold. Awesome! But, how will you get them to stay? How will you get them to fully engage with your homepage and explore through the rest of your website? To do that, provide them with the value your company provides. You can do that in a variety of ways.
One way is through a value proposition, which lets users know why they should do business with your company over your competitors. Try not to confuse a value prop with a slogan or catchphrase. A great value proposition is one that expresses the benefits of your company through a compelling headline + sub-headline or small paragraph + some type of visual. People are highly visual, so we tend to gravitate towards intriguing visuals over text.
Because of this, a photo or video that complements a good head and sub goes a long way. Another great way to demonstrate value is through trust indicators. These consist of customer testimonials, case studies, social media posts, or trust seals. These are excellent ways of proving to your potential customers that your product/service is tried and true.
Ensure That The User Experience Is Up To Par, If Not Better Than Your Competitors
You may draw your users in with excellent visuals, great copy, and an aesthetically-pleasing interface. But if your users can’t navigate through the homepage, then they probably won’t engage with the rest of your site. User experience is kind of like the cloud the hovers over your entire homepage, it covers every piece of your homepage from the content to the functionality. Again, the goal is try and eliminate as much friction for your users as possible.
The Design Is Optimized For Multiple Devices
This is really a no-brainer. The web is being viewed more and more on mobile devices over traditional desktop computers and laptops as time progresses, so ensuring that your homepage is as effective on mobile as it is on desktop is vital. If your homepage is fairly simple and straightforward and doesn’t have too much going on functionality-wise, you should definitely consider making your mobile homepage AMP-compliant. Integrating AMP to your homepage will drastically improve the speed of your homepage, altogether making the user experience on mobile devices that much more enjoyable and efficient for your potential customers.
A Few Examples Of Effective Homepages
Right off the bat, Grammarly’s homepage immediately demonstrates the benefits their company provides by A) providing a straightforward headline and subheadline that brings the user in, and B) includes a complementary visual (in this case it’s the charismatic typing gif) that clearly demonstrates how it their product functions.
It gets that much better as you scroll down. Grammarly does an excellent job of doing the most with less – keeping their homepage and user experience simple and straightforward so that the content is digestible and users know where to go and what to click on.
It’s hard not to get your mouth watery after looking at Sun Basket’s homepage, and it’s not just the food I’m talking about. It’s really a well-designed site that does a great job of having their product speak for itself. This is a different case in which the visuals are put at the forefront and is what really presents the benefits their company provides: making healthy food recipes appealing and delicious.
The use of “organic” and “sustainable” seals and certifications, along with notable publications they’ve been featured in, are nice touches in pushing the idea that they only provide the best ingredients for their customers.
Invision does a great job at presenting the clear benefits that their product provides, but where it shines is through their demonstration of trust indicators. Invision packs their homepage with lots of recognizable partner logos and client testimonial videos and quotes. All of this, plus their clear demonstration of how their prototyping product and services stands out from the crowd, leaves an invaluable impact in their users minds.
Remember to keep in mind that your homepage is what will make a lasting impression on your users, especially new ones. Ensure that the user experience is always top-of-mind when it’s being designed and built out, but still try to find ways to make your product or service stand out from the crowd.