Have you spent any amount of time designing your webpage? If you answered “yes”, we are willing to bet that most of it went to optimizing your home page. It is no surprise that you have chosen to do this.
Your home page is where your visitors determine your brand’s quality. Designed well with the right elements and hierarchy, your site’s home page will be able to ease visitors down your sales funnel.
Making a lasting impression is key if you want your site to stand out. What better place to do this than in the part of your site meant to greet your visitors?
Optimizing your homepage is always a must. However, there’s a learning curve to everything. It’s easy to overdo things with the home page. Luckily, this article will show you how you can create a homepage that shows off your brand without coming off sleazy or sketchy.
This is part of our how-to series on how to DIY your site build. In this part of the how-to series, we go into the home page and its importance to your site. We’ll also get into some of the best practices for designing your home page.
So, stick around, and read on to learn more about the basics of making your home page!
The home page of a site displays the site client’s brand. By site client, I mean the business the site is meant to serve (this means your business).
It is where your site’s visitors are likely to navigate from once they stumble across your site from the SERPs. If not from the SERPs, traffic to your home page will come from users typing your site’s URL
The home page is where much of your in-site navigation is located. From the home page, clickable elements will redirect your users to other parts of your website, including its:
Navigation emanates to and from the home page once your user has made it to your site. For this reason, your home page is one of the most viewed parts of your site.
Indeed, the home page is a high-traffic part of any website. This has caused many designers and UX specialists to focus most of their efforts on this part of a website.
According to experts, doing this is not wrong but might take off efforts from designing other parts of a site well. For example, some web designers tend to fall into the trap of over-optimizing the home page with a lot of videos, sacrificing page loading speed.
These mistakes arise due to misconceptions surrounding the role of the home page. If you believe any of the following as you DIY your hero page, you may want to pause:
This is not always an incorrect idea. Nonetheless, if you haven’t truly clarified your goals for your website, this seemingly harmless equivocation might come back to haunt you.
It’s easy to think that a landing page is the same as the home page. Indeed, sites like Netflix are designed in a way that the landing page and homepage are the same.
However, when you think about what a landing page is for, you’ll see why it isn’t necessarily the same as a home page.
A home page, as mentioned earlier, should contain clickable elements for in-site navigation. It’s meant to keep your users or visitors clicking away at your site.
A landing page has one purpose — to seal the deal or close a sale. For this reason, there should be little to no navigation present on the landing page.
If you design your homepage thinking that it’s the landing page and vice-versa, you’re setting yourself — and your visitors — up for failure.
Yes, the home page can receive the most traffic compared to other parts of your site. However, contrary to popular belief, there’s more than one way to end up on your site.
Search engines have changed the game completely by taking up most web traffic. According to Search Engine Journal, nearly three-fourths of all online traffic begin with search engines. It is from the SERPs where most users end up on sites. Rarely does anyone type a URL these days.
What does this mean for you? It means that your homepage will not always be the first page a visitor arrives at. Design your homepage assuming that it’s the first point of contact with your user, and you’ll risk putting too much into your page.
Overloading your homepage can take away traffic from your other pages. Also, you might be neglecting other parts of your site.
We at PERC get where you’re coming from if you’re making this assumption. If most of your visitors will end up on your homepage, it makes sense to make all your home page content attractive, right?
We hate to break it to you, but the answer is no.
Home page content still needs to follow the rules of visual hierarchy. If everything on your homepage is equally eye-catching, the results can be:
- A confusing homepage
- An overloaded and overwhelming homepage
- A homepage with no clear path for users to navigate
So, if a homepage isn’t the first point of contact, nor is it the landing page, then how do you make it better?
By now, you’ve likely understood that you shouldn’t overload, over-optimize, and overemphasize your homepage. Instead, you’ll have to design your homepage by keeping the following in mind:
- Your goals
- Your brand
- Your target audience
Here are some tips to create a homepage that serves your site in the right way:
Your goals will play an important role in determining how you design your homepage. To clarify your goals for your site, you need to answer one simple question: “What do I want my user to do after seeing my homepage?”
Your answer to this will carry over to how you go about tweaking your site navigation. For example, imagine that your answer to the above question sounds like: “I want my site visitor to check out my coffee press catalog.”
If this is the case, then perhaps a highly visible button or blurb that redirects your user to the catalog might help. Alternatively, you can go with a giant clickable header that takes your user to your coffee press catalog.
Have you ever ended up on a random website that gives you no clue about what it is and what it’s for? If you have, then you might remember how disoriented and confused you were.
Your site visitors should know right away what you’re all about and what you offer. You can position yourself as a site worthy of views and patronage by basing your home page content around these questions:
- What is your business?
- What do you offer?
- What makes you so special?
- What area do you serve?
Answer these questions quickly and use the answers as your visible home page content. Doing this confirms to your visitor that he or she stumbled onto the right website.
According to Interaction Design, eye movements when browsing web pages either go left to right or top to bottom. Lately, however, two new visual hierarchy patterns have emerged.
Interaction Design has discovered that users on average browse pages using a “Z” and “F” pattern.
The “Z” pattern begins at the top of the web page. It goes from left to right. Then, from the top right-hand corner, the eyes go to the left lower corner of the page then to the right.
To use this pattern, position your clickables or your most important home page content at the corners of your homepage.
Another pattern you can follow is the “F” pattern. Users who view content with the “F” pattern browse from left to right, looking at content in rows. This is excellent if you have a homepage that’s a little heavy on text and photos.
The desire to make an impression makes the use of high-res media tempting. Beware — while high-resolution media like videos can turn heads, your page loading speed can take a serious hit.
Business 2 Community echoes the point of SEO specialists in pointing out the importance of page loading speed. In one of the site’s blogs, it mentioned that most users will visit a different site if a page loads longer than four seconds.
If you want your user to stay on your site, use media responsibly to preserve page loading speed.
As you design your site, do so in a way that’s friendly to desktops and most importantly mobile users. The reason for this is that a vast majority of your users will likely look at your homepage (and other pages on your site) using their phones.
Mobile-friendliness, according to Interaction Design, streamlines your visitor’s user experience. At the same time, mobile-friendliness can also contribute to your site’s SEO. Thus, designing for mobile hits two birds in one stone.
Your homepage can be one of the most important parts of your website. As the page that can receive the most traffic, it’s the perfect place to set the tone for your users. Design your homepage using the tips above, and you’ll be hitting a home run with the number of visits and conversions on your site!
If you need help, we at PERC can take the guesswork out of page design and UX.
Allow our team of web designers and SEO specialists to keep eyes glued and clicks coming to your site!