Your home page is often the first page a site visitor sees. You might say that it's your virtual reception area. Just like a bricks and mortar reception area, your home page should exude warmth and offer a sincere welcome before ushering them into your site. Your home page should also include some basic elements that describe your company and give the visitor a reason to stay.
Five elements of an effective home page
How do you go about designing a warm, welcoming and intriguing home page? Although every company is different, there are several essential elements that every good home page should have:
1. The basics.
It may sound obvious, but I'm sure you've visited sites where it's difficult to tell what the name of the company is and what they sell. Those two points plus contact information should be visible to your home page visitors within a couple of seconds.
2. A "teaser" about your product.
The average Web user makes a decision whether to stay on your site or leave in about 10 seconds, according to research by the NN Group. The good news is that once they make the decision to stay, the same research found that the average user will then stay on your site often for two minutes or more (a small eternity in Internet terms.)
To keep your visitors interested, and to guide them further into your site, you need some Web copywriting that gives them a thumbnail sketch of your product or service, a glimpse of what your site is about. It is best to be brief. Remember: you also have 10 seconds.
3. Clear, concise content that's focused on your customer.
Clear, concise web copywriting is a hallmark of any good home page. It's tempting to load your home page with everything you want your potential customers to know about your company. However, a whole page of text can cause your visitors to click away in a hurry. Instead, offer just a brief smattering of your product's benefits, ideally in easy-to-scan bullet points. Give them a reason (or two) to delve further into your site.
It's also important to focus your content on your potential customer. Don't write to your needs; write to theirs. You want your content to resonate with them. You already know you have a good product.
4. At least one image.
Hubspot.com calls having at least one supporting image one of the 12 essential features of a good home page. That makes sense. People are visual and images give them an instant idea about what your site is about. However, choose carefully. A bad generic stock image can turn potential customers away from your site.
5. A call to action.
Why have a home page (or a Web site) if you don't intend to sell something or motivate visitors to take some kind of action? (We're assuming you're not creating the next Wikipedia.) This call to action can be as soft as a "sign up here" or "get a quote" button. A call to action tells the visitor what you can offer and what you expect of them. It's the Web equivalent of asking for the order.
Creating and maintaining a good and effective home page is a fluid process. Start with the basics, add some killer Web copywriting, insert an image and ask for the order. By following these steps, you'll be well on your way to making a good first impression.