How many times have you visited the homepage of a website and thought “ugh!” before clicking the ‘back’ button as quickly as you can? We’ve all done it at some point, whether it’s because it was poorly designed, not well signposted or just plain ugly.
Your home page acts as a first point of contact for so many of your customers, it’s important to get it right. A good home page can make the difference between a new customer or a false lead – and a bad home page can do exactly the same thing.
It might seem like there are as many home page designs as there are stars in the sky. Although home pages come in all sorts of colours and flavours, there are at least five features that all great home pages have.
1. A professionally-designed logo
Picture your home page as your front office. Your logo, or ID, is essentially your face on the net. You’re probably aware of the importance of professional logo design for general marketing. This is even more important for internet marketing. Don’t forget, even a pixel out of place can make your logo look horrible!
Logos should be at the top of home pages. This gives site users reassurance that they’ve come to the right site.
2. Tag line
If your logo is the face of your customer service person waiting on your front desk, then the tag line is the first thing they will say. It’s a way to describe your company in one short line. It’s also a good opportunity to get some keywords woven into your page if you’re using SEO.
It’s really important to have descriptive tag line next to the site logo or ID, to link the two together. This is another standard practice that businesses have used for a long time in the real world, and it translates really well onto the net.
3. Welcome blurb
Your home page is the only point at which you can introduce your customers to your site, so take the opportunity to do so.
4. Persistent navigation
Without clear, well-labelled navigation that covers your entire site, your site’s users will get lost. Navigation must stay the same throughout the site. Persistent navigation (sometimes known as global navigation) provides site users with the same markers throughout the site, to help them keep their bearings.
Lots of sites use persistent navigation naturally, and you may already have the markers you need. The components of persistent navigation include:
- Company logo at the top of every page – this should also link back to your home page
- Page title, letting the user know where they are in the site
- Main navigation along one edge of the page – the top or left-hand side is most common
- Secondary navigation, such as a footer navigation
- Utilities, such as ‘about us’ and ‘contact us’, if these are not included in your main navigation bar.
Setting out these elements in a universal structure gives visitors to your site a sense of comfort, and it must start on your home page. It’s important to include a link clearly directed back to the home page on every other page. This is a kind of fail-safe measure, allowing the site user to escape back to the main page, no matter where they are.
5. Content teasers
Internet users are on your home page because they want information and they are looking for links to that information. The home page is the only place you can plant a number of clear pathways and teasers to deep content. This also allows you to show off your content a little as well. A home page is a site’s hub, so be sure to use it.
Using these tips can make sure that visitors to your site spend some quality time on it!