5 tips for creating the perfect website homepage according to Embark Agency.
When planning the homepage, our number one priority is organising the information in a way that subtly yet strategically communicates a hierarchy of information to your customer. This is especially important when you are selling a unique product to the market.
After over 20 years of designing business websites I can say that your website homepage is arguably the most important page on your entire website. Your website homepage is the most prime real estate on your website. It deserves attention to detail and careful planning to ensure you get the best results. And guess what? Most businesses get it wrong. Let’s make sure yours is not another statistic.
So how do you create a website homepage that connects to your customers and converts them from a browser into a buyer or enquirer?
Let’s start with the average website browser whose attention span lies somewhere around eight seconds. And yes, that is 1 second less than a goldfish! This means we do not have much time for your website homepage to convert your customers. We need to be very strategic about what information is presented and where this information is placed on your website homepage.
Not sure where to start with your website homepage?
Here are Embark Agency’s 5 tips for creating the perfect website homepage:
1. Identify your user groups
This is probably where most businesses get it wrong. They build the website from their perspective, not the customers. I use the 80/20 rule a lot in business and branding. In this case, I want you to think about content creation and messaging for your website as 80% from the customers’ perspective and 20% from yours.
The best place to start is to identify who your customers are and what user groups will be visiting your website homepage. Once you have identified which users will be visiting your website, you can reverse engineer what the website homepage needs to say based on how to fulfill their goals and objectives.
It’s best to keep this very high level. You don’t need to get into the specifics of say John Smith who was born in 1980 and likes fast cars and long windy walks on the beach. Here we’re talking about high level user groups that relate to the products and services you sell. Let’s look at some examples.
Homepage user group examples:
Small business example: Tree Arborist
User groups coming to the website: Home owners, business owners, project managers
Small business example: Family dentist
User groups coming to the website: Parents, grand parents, primary carers, individuals
Small business example: Industrial piping specialist
User groups coming to the website: Mining and engineering companies, Councils and contractors, material and machine suppliers, talent
2. Solve your customers’ problem as quickly as possible
After identifying your user groups, the second most important ingredient for your website homepage is identifying what actual problem you are solving for each one of these user groups.
One area that is especially important is the very top of your website homepage before you start scrolling. This is called ‘above the fold’ and we’ll concentrate on it here.
The ‘above the fold’ area is all about matching to your ideal customers’ needs while the rest of the website homepage is where you convince them that you are the right company for the job.
Saying ‘Welcome to my website’ or having your logo duplicated as big as possible on your website homepage is the absolute worst information you can give a prospective customer. Why? Because you are not providing any value at all. Zip, dooda, nothing. Remember we have 8 seconds to grab their attention and if you’re a goldfish you have already clicked the next competitors tab.
We need to speak to your customers about their problems, not tell them how wonderful we think we are. No one cares except for the business owner! (Sorry business owners.)
So this step is all about identifying why customers are clicking on your website homepage and how you can explain to them as quickly as possible that you are a good fit for them to do business with – and most importantly fix their problem!
Start with these website homepage questions:
- What problem do they have that you can solve?
- What information do you need to present to your ideal customer that explains that you can fix their problem?
- How can you say this in a quick and easy way?
- Is the information crystal clear – do they have to think?
- What is your unique value proposition?
- What is your call to action (CTA) button or link to enquire or buy?
- How can you say this in a way that you are talking to your customers and not about yourself 80/20 rule (above)
- What is your customer thinking when they land on this page?
- What do you want them to do by the time they have finished?
- What messages do you need to convey by the time they reach the “end” of the page?
- What do you need to show and tell them to move them from a prospect to a confirmed lead or sale?
The ultimate goal here is to craft the perfect message that explains what you do in an extremely clear, concise and powerful way that really connects to your customers. If you have to make them think you will most likely lose them. If you nail this, your customers will want to make an inquiry and you need to make this extremely easy for them with the least amount of friction possible. Here we need to talk about page speed but let’s save this conversation for another time. For now you just need a solid call to action button or link.
The best way of crafting the perfect brand value proposition is through the brand strategy process and we recommend getting professional help from a copywriter as this can be absolutely worth its weight in gold.
Homepage above the fold value proposition and call to action examples:
Small business example: Tree Arborist
Matching: Our leading arborists specialise in careful tree removal and risk assessments for around the home and in the community.
Value proposition: Advocates for nature, experts in safety, Pete’s Treeworx set the standard for tree services in WA
Call to action: Get a quote
Small business example: Family dentist
Matching: You’ll Love Toothpaste Family Dentist
Value proposition: Quality friendly and affordable – A vibrant team with many years experience caring for the health needs of the Gold Coast community, in a fresh and modern environment.
Call to action: Book an appointment
Small business example: Industrial piping specialist
Matching: Breaking new ground in water & gas piping.
Value proposition: Connecting sites, communities and businesses to the Earth’s valuable resources.
Call to action: Work with us
3. Present them with the right information at the right time
Let’s talk about user experience and how our marketing brain works. To understand this we need to look at how people process information. This in turn dictates how we present information architecture on the website homepage.
Did you know we have three brains?
The way our brains have developed and evolved over the years will give us key insights to how we continue to process information.
Enter the ‘Three Brain’ theory which can be used as a marketing concept on how we process information and make decisions.
Credit: Paul MacLean – The Triune Brain Theory.
This theory makes up three parts of the consumer’s journey on the website homepage:
1. Reptilian Brain (Are they safe?)
- Error prone
2. Mammalian Brain (Can they be trusted?)
- Memories & habits
- Social proof
3. NeoCortex Brain (What am I learning?)
- Problem solving
But what does this all mean and which of these three brains matter most when you’re marketing or building your website homepage?
It ties directly into your user journey above and solving their problem. You must present information to the user at the stage they are at in their journey. All information passes through the ‘Reptilian’ brain first which makes up 95% of our decisions.
Therefore, your initial marketing or messaging should be clear, simple, familiar, safe, intriguing, emotional and ethical. Always benefiting the consumer first.
The best example of this are newspapers. They have the heading first (reptilian brain), the sub heading intro paragraph summary (mammalian brain) and lastly the body copy (neocortex brain). This gives us a very clear picture of how newspapers display their information to their readers which gives us insights into how we can present the information of our product and services to our target audience on our website homepage.
An over simplified example of a website homepage:
Above the fold – Reptilian (Are they safe?):
- This is all about matching
- Stage of awareness
- Unique value proposition
- Call to action
- Products and services
Below the fold – Mammalian (Can they be trusted?):
- This is all about social proof
- Lead magnets
- Previous work or clients
- Great brand and imagery
- A link to about us – history, team, purpose vision mission statements
Below the fold is all about convincing. It sets you up to create more content for below the fold of your homepage.
You need to be asking questions like:
- Why should they care?
- Do others like them care?
- Can I really do what I say?
- Why should they believe you?
- If they believe you, now what?
Further below the fold & other pages – NeoCortex Brain (What am I learning?)
- This is the final decision making process and it’s all about the details
- Blog links
- Educational material
- Terms and conditions
- Product specifications and high detailed information
- Links to sizes, dimensions, pricing
- Location information
- Social media links
- Newsletter signups
It is important to note that when our brains process information it follows this three brain process every time. Which means all information must pass through the reptilian brain first, no exception. If you stuff this first crucial step up your customers will not proceed, they will check out and leave.
It can all get a little confusing at times so my advice is to keep the website homepage simple, unique and easy to navigate. Nice big headings with easy to read information and simple language. Leave all the detailed stuff for your other pages.
4. Create an easy conversion path
We have touched on this above but once you have matched your customer and convinced them that you are indeed the right company for the job, it will be time to convert them into a potential customer.
The best way to do this is to keep it as easy as possible and don’t give them too many options. There is nothing more annoying than landing on a website homepage and not knowing which button to click. We don’t want our customers getting decision fatigue or overwhelm as this scares the reptilian brain away. Give them one solid option to contact you. This can differ from business to business and there are many different ways of doing this.
Call to action examples:
- Contact form
- Calendar booking link
- Live chat
Your customer may want to explore the website homepage further or other parts of the website. This is the time to take them on a journey through the three brains and deliver them content at the point in their journey that they are on.
Try a solutions based approach
This strategy works really well. The key is not to overwhelm your customer with information they are not ready to read. It’s like forcing detailed ingredient information down someone’s throat when they are not even sure they are ready to eat. Leave this content for your other website pages, like your services or product page, not your website homepage.
A solutions based approach is an extremely helpful technique at directing your customers to where they need to go on the website homepage. This usually sits directly under the ‘above the fold’ section. It is really important that you keep the language relevant to your customer and do not speak industry jargon.
A few pro tips:
- Stick to 3 of 4 options max
- Pick the main services or products that you offer
- Keep the language simple
- Speak to the issues you are solving or the customer (not the product name)
- Include a rollover option to help guide the customer
- Include a call to action button such as ‘read more’ or ‘book now’
Solutions based approach example: Family dentist
Option 1: Just a checkup and clean thanks
Rollover: Is it time for your annual check up? Here at Toothpaste Family Dentist Benowa we offer a range of services to fulfil all of your dental aesthetic and health needs.
Option 2: I have a bit of a dental problem
Rollover: Teeth or mouth need some TLC? We are a holistic dentist and work with whatever issue you might have. e.g. broken tooth, yellow teeth, wisdom teeth.
Option 3: It’s an emergency help
Rollover: Toothache, broken tooth or sporting injury? We are here to help. Book an emergency appointment with us and view emergency information to assist you before you arrive.
Option 4: I would like straighter teeth
Rollover: Not happy with your crowded, crooked teeth? Let’s get things straight! Our Invisalign trained dentists are here to discuss your treatment options to give you the best results.
Solutions based approach example: Speech Pathologist
Option 1: Speech pathology
Rollover: Get the help your child needs from our friendly and professional speech pathologists.
Option 2: Careers
Rollover: For speech pathologists who want a fulfilling career with an emphasis on learning, support, and development of clinical skills.
Option 3: Coaching
Rollover: Business coaching for speech pathologists by speech pathologists.
Option 4: Ownership opportunities
Rollover: Join the TalkHO Group – your own speech pathology business with support and systems.
Solutions based approach example: Tree Arborist
Option 1: For homeowners
Rollover: Trees causing headaches around your property? Prepare for the season ahead and transform your outdoor areas into safe spaces to enjoy.
Option 2: For commercial and industrial
Rollover: Our qualified arborists have extensive knowledge and safety training suitable for all civil, commercial and development projects.
Option 3: Emergency
Rollover: Fallen trees, extreme weather and people don’t mix. We prioritise emergency call outs and property damage so you can avoid unnecessary risks.
5. Get professional help with content creation
When you land on a website homepage first impressions matter. There are two important factors at work here: UI and UX.
Website Design or User Interface (UI)
What do you want your website to say about you?
Your website is the front door to your business; it’s where people go first to find out who you are and what you do. It takes a split second for someone to form an opinion about your website—and therefore your business. It’s never been more important for this part of your business to have a professional and compelling design that leaves visitors with a good first impression and entices them to stay on your site.
All it takes is one click and they’re gone for good.
You need to take a strategic approach to planning and building websites. While the content will ensure your ideal audience can find you, the design is all about keeping them engaged to convert leads into sales.
Humans are also highly visual. 90% of information transmitted to the brain is based on visual cues. Which means, when it comes to your website homepage, design clearly matters.
Website user experience (UX)
When you visit a website, you want it to be a seamless experience, with simple navigation that enables you to quickly and easily find what you need. Your customer is no different.
Any confusion or frustration could result in them switching to a competitor’s website that might offer a better experience. We want you to keep your new customers, so our priority is creating a beautiful and smooth experience for users of your website.
Some tips we would recommend:
- 2-3 click philosophy – no one likes getting lost in a rabbit warren of pages on a website. Keep it simple.
- Give multiple options for consuming information: text, dot points and we highly recommend video.
- Make sure your website is responsive to smartphones and tablets. As of February 2017, mobile devices accounted for 59.72 percent of web page views worldwide.
Marketing copy and messaging plays a key role in forming what your customer takes away.
In today’s fast-paced world, people make decisions in a split second. Winning them over requires well-crafted presentation and clear, concise messaging that conveys exactly how your solution is the one they are seeking. Professional copywriting helps to raise awareness, convert leads into sales and ensure your website is visible to your prospective audience.
At Embark, we believe in the power of words as much as the power of design. Professional copywriting services help to complement the design and ensure your business has the best chance to compete in the marketplace.
Other things you can do:
- Use an ‘Elevator Pitch’ or ‘Unique Selling Point’
- Convey what you do as quickly as possible
- Distinguish what sets you apart from your competitors
- Identify the tone of voice that best compliments your business
Clever copy attracts search engines that drive traffic to your site.
Having a website that looks professional and operates smoothly is only one half of the equation. There is no point having a great website if no one can find it. We specialise in engaging copy, custom written for your business and cleverly built with organic SEO to ensure your website is designed correctly from the ground up. SEO services are designed to ensure your business shows up as high as possible in a Google search.
Other things you can do:
- Back link to other reputable websites
- Get social and share your website content
- Update your site regularly with blogs
- Research your keywords
When creating your website homepage every decision matters. From the look and feel to the tone of voice – all the content you present needs to be based on strategy. One small word change can have a huge impact on your conversion rate.
Remember there is no second chance at making a first impression. Every aspect of your marketing strategy is designed to make your company stand out from the competition. Why would your website homepage be any different?
Don’t let your website homepage be the reason people don’t buy from you.