If you caught yesterday’s post, you know that your small business needs a website. If you missed it, well, maybe go give it a read now. Because it’s the truth. Your website is how your business will be able to build a presence, a brand and authority online. It’s also how you ensure that you’re getting in front of your target audience instead of hiding from them in a sea of obscurity.
Or at least it is if you design your site correctly.
While there’s a lot that can be said about how to design a business website, I thought I’d focus on some best practices for one of the most important pages on your site – your business home page.
Below are six rules to keep in mind when designing the home page for the rest of your site.
1. Give the Who, What, When, Where, Why & How.
Someone’s just landed on your home page. Quickly tell them who you are, what you do, and where they can find you (your actual business location) in case this is the first time they’re hearing about you. Then tell them where they can go on your site to get more of this kind of information. Once you do this, move on. Your home page isn’t the place to get into your company’s life story or to establish your whole point of difference. You have other pages on your site that should be dedicated toward that, like your About page or your Services pages.
2. Focus on what you want people to do.
OK, so someone landed on your website. What do you want them to do next? Do you want them to read your blog? Do you want them to click on your Services area? Do you want them to enter their email address into a site contact form? Whatever your goal is, that is the direction your home page should point people toward. Often site owners try to make their home page their everything. They include links to every page on their site, showing off every product they offer, everything they sell and everything they’ve ever written. They give people a dozen different choices of activities they can perform.
Unfortunately, most people can’t process this many options.
Remove all links from your home page that don’t serve your purpose. When it comes to your home page, less is often more. You really want to cater to who you are and your core competencies. If someone likes the T-shirts on your site, they’ll dig around on their own. You don’t have to bombard them with links to every other page on your website.
3. Create the path you want people to follow.
OK, so you’ve decided what you want people to do when they land on your home page. Now carve out a path to help them navigate through the rest of your site. Build that conversion funnel that leads people toward the actions you want them to take. Without that path it’s too easy for a customer to get lost, become confused or hit the back button. By creating a path you help keep them exactly where they belong – navigating through your site. A path is created by focusing on the things you want someone to do and removing the options for them to do what you don’t want them to do (like click to the home page from inside a shopping cart).
4. Give them a way to get in touch with you.
If someone landed on your home page instead of one of your interior pages, it may mean that they conducted a broader search. They weren’t looking for what you sell; they were looking for your brand name. If that’s the case, then help them learn more about you by providing quick links of places they can go to get to know more about you. Maybe it’s your Twitter account, your Facebook page, your company LinkedIn profile, your blog, etc. These all serve as important trust cues and they help customers get to know the voices and faces behind the company, which is often exactly what they’re after.
5. Avoid clutter.
Yes, you want to make your homepage more dynamic by introducing customers to the other arenas they can go to learn more about you, but you don’t want to clutter your homepage up with so many buttons and links that customers start getting NASCAR flashbacks. Pick what’s important, decide which accounts you want to highlight and focus on those. You can include all the other social media profiles, accounts and author profiles on a more in-depth About page.
6. Don’t steal your competitor’s text.
You have a blank home page in front of you waiting to be written. Where do you go for inspiration or some “help” getting started? Well, if you’re like most business owners – you go straight to your competitor’s Web site.
Stop. Go back. This is a bad idea.
Using your competitor’s text as a “guide” or straight-out copying lines from their home page isn’t going to help you convey your site’s brand message. It’s not going to get across what’s different about how you do business, why you’re the better choice or what you have to offer. While it may be tempting to use a competitor’s home page for inspiration, try not to. Take some time to really think about your business and your customers. What information are they looking for and what needs do they have? How can you best market yourself to them?
Those are some things to keep in mind when designing or redesigning your site’s home page. Do you have any examples of home pages that really get the job done or ones you think could benefit from a re-do?