It’s a simple question, but one worth thinking about from time to time. What should you really include on your homepage? And why do so many designers get it so wrong?
Imagine you are a business owner that has recently ventured online. Your website’s homepage is the face of your business. However you intend to drive traffic to your site, you can guarantee that the majority of your potential customers will head straight to your homepage, as it is regarded as the central resource. Because your homepage creates that all-important first impressions for consumers (users will judge the relevancy and trustworthiness of your site in seconds), you need to make sure that it not only looks clean, professional and uncluttered, but that it points users in the right direction and offers links to as many different pieces of information as possible.
If you’re a web designer, creating a functional yet appealing homepage is definitely no mean feat. Below is a list of points you should consider when designing a homepage for your clients, and while many of these factors may be regarded as common sense, you’d be surprised how often they’re overlooked. Other points are just suggestions and pointers – ultimately, you need to work out a fool proof homepage design process that’s going to work for you, every time.
- Many designers believe that working backwards leads to better results. Once you have the entire structure of the site in place, you can then decide what needs to take priority and how your homepage should be arranged.
- Make sure that logos, slogans and contact details are displayed prominently so that they can be found easily.
- Display calls to action such as telephone numbers, contact forms, online chat options etc to persuade the user to get in touch.
- Add a few lines about the mission or purpose of the company/website at the top of the page. There’s no need to go into a lot of detail here, as many designers recommend providing users with a link to a more in-depth ‘About Us’ page underneath the text to save creating a content-heavy homepage.
- Create a clear, simple tab at the top or at the side of your page which will act as a directory for your users. Include your ‘About Us’ page, ‘Contact Us’ page and any category pages that are relevant to your business.
- Set up a ‘search’ box to enhance the usability of the site.
- Use relevant images and graphics to convey your message. While these shouldn’t take up the whole of the page, quality images can leave a lasting impression and grab the attention of the reader from the moment their eyes land on the page.
- Link to your blog. Blogs are an essential part of contemporary web design and are there to be read!
- Spell-check any content on the page and make sure it’s interesting and informative. Nothing turns off users more than badly written text! Ensure that any content is well spaced out and easy to read.
- Link to your social media accounts via your homepage. This makes it easy for users to follow you using whichever medium they prefer and shows that you’re committed to engaging your consumers or fans in conversation.
- Make sure none of the links you create are broken.
- Write your meta data properly with the aim of your site in mind. It’s the little details such as the meta titles that will attract the wrong kind of attention if they’re poorly written or irrelevant, and this will also damage your chances of ranking well within the search engines.
Important Links To Include On Your Homepage
To summarise briefly, you need to somehow link to the following areas for the best results:
- Social Media Sites – links to Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Digg etc
- ‘About Us’
- ‘Contact Us’ (if this is a separate page)
- Terms & Conditions of site usage
- Sitemap or XML Sitemap
- The client login area (if applicable)