The homepage is basically the front cover of your website and even though people say you should never judge a book by its cover but they do. So it is essential that you get it right, but this can be difficult. Think about all the things you need to get on there.

  • Company Identity
  • Navigation
  • What the company does
  • The main things you are trying to promote
  • Some form of searching the site
  • Promotions or adverts
  • And it’s got look great

On top of all this you may have the various departments in your company all trying to claim the top spot and then you still have to keep the SEO guy happy.  It’s not long before your website looks like this:

Example of a bad homepage

Your homepage is the face of your company on the web. If people can’t use it or don’t like it then they won’t both viewing the rest of the website. Ultimately you are not going to get the conversions you were hoping for.

So how do we turn your homepage from an epileptic nightmare into something that works?

The first thing to do is, get a degree in diplomacy. You’ll need it, because all the department heads and the office dog will want their say. So force them all out the door, lock it, pull down the blind down and get your company website up on the screen. Then ask yourself these questions:

  • What is this site?
  • Where do I go next?
  • What do I do here?

Within a few seconds of look at the homepage you ideally want to be able to answer those questions.

What is this Site?

The homepage doesn’t need to have the same format as other pages.  This means you can make the logo more prominent maybe bigger. Near the logo you should have a tagline. Now the tagline is quite important. Most people try to clever and witty at this point. This is great as long you are witty clever and more importantly descriptive. The tagline is a quick way of telling people what your site is. Here are some examples:

  • YouTube : Broadcast Yourself.
  • Get Rich Slowly : Personal finance that makes cents.
  • Slashdot : News for nerds. Stuff that matters.

If you manage to get a keyword or two in here, then so much the better.

Now you’ve hooked them with the tagline add a short paragraph explaining exactly what you do. Maybe incorporate this in the banner, incorporate an eye catching and descriptive graphic or image.  The key is, keep it short, people will not read miles of text. Once you’ve told them who you are and what you do. Then you must encourage them to do something.

Where do I go next?

Whatever you promote on the homepage is likely to get more traffic than anything else on your site. The homepage is not the place to go into detail about all your products and services, but is merely a gateway to the rest of the website.  You could use a banner

Good example of a homepage banner

Or split your page into columns.

Example of colums on a homepage

Then use a short bit of text that will get people hooked and then make it absolutely clear that they can click a button to find out more.

What can I do here?

This will depend on your site. It maybe that you are an online shop and you wish people to buy stuff; or it could be that you want people to register so they can use an online service; or it could simply be that you wish them to ring you. Whatever your site is people will have to know what they can do when they arrive on your homepage. For example, if you are selling Jeans online, you might have a section on the homepage with a title of “Get this season’s Jeans now”. Immediately people know that on your site they can get hold of the latest in trouser denim wear.

Conclusion

The homepage is the key to your website. It is the driver of traffic around your site and even when you have all the text right a lot of the usability and impact will come from the design. So it is essential that design and content complement each other.

It can be difficult to find faults with your own website, but many web design and Internet marketing agency will offer free site audits. They will be able to offer you advice and ways to improve website conversion.