There’s a lot that goes into designing a website, especially if you’re trying to put some real thought and strategy into it. It can be really overwhelming if you find yourself trying to think of everything as a whole.
To help with that, today we’ll break down one specific piece and talk about designing a strategic homepage. The homepage is one of the most important areas on a website and has a huge part to play in first impressions for your client. In this episode we’ll chat about where home pages go wrong, the goals of a homepage, and how to put all the pieces together.
Where home pages go wrong
There are two big mistakes when it comes to designing home pages.
First is using it just to show blog posts. Doing this is a waste of prime space on a website unless your client is really just a blogger, rather than a business owner. Not every single post someone writes is what they want to dictate someone else’s first impression of them.
The second mistake is just throwing a homepage together based on what you see other people doing. Even people who are doing great make a lot of mistakes on their website. Instead of throwing something together, have a purpose behind every single item you add and make sure a few specific goals are met.
Goals of a homepage
There’s a lot that has to happen on a homepage, but it’s important to treat it as an area that will pull people into a website and get them started in the right direction.
The goals of a homepage include:
- Establish the “who” – Who is your client? Can they be trusted?
- Establish the “what” – What does your client do and who do they do it for?
- Establish the “where” – Where should they start?
- Encourage action – What is the very first and most important action someone should take?
These goals may sound like a lot for one page, but if you get creative it doesn’t have to be. Remember, these things don’t all have to be done through text. Use images, icons, calls-to-action, and the overall design layout.
Let’s break each goal down into a little more detail:
This piece quickly lets people know who your client is and whether they can be trusted.
With this goal, be careful to avoid being too wordy. Your client has an About page for a reason, so you don’t need to include paragraphs of text here.
Instead, include a headshot or image of your client working if there’s a personal element to your client’s business. This is great for building an immediate connection.
You can also include a sentence or two about who they are and what they’re around to accomplish to help build that connection and filter out people who are in the wrong place.
This piece is meant to get across who your client helps and what they do for them.
This is somewhere you want to be sure to make it nice and clear. People shouldn’t have to go to the About page or Services page to get a general idea of what your client offers.
Include things like imagery, calls-to-action for certain products and services, and a quick tagline or sentence explaining the goals they help their client or customers achieve.
The “where” is meant to help people know where to start if they’re on the website for the first time.
With this, it’s important to avoid asking for too much too soon. This isn’t the place to ask someone to book a consult call or view your client’s services. It can sometimes even be too soon to ask them to join an email list.
Look at this as more of a fallback call-to-action – something with a super low commitment. Options like viewing the Blog or About page can help build authority and trust, which will help prepare them for the next steps.
This last one is similar to the “where”, but it’s more for the people who have been around a time or two and have that initial trust built. Think of it as the #1 action your client wants their visitors to take.
Usually this will be something like opting in to an email list, joining a community, attending a free event, or hopping on a consult call.
Put it all together
Now that you have all the pieces, it’s time to put them together in a way that makes sense. Think of it as a journey and consider what order people should travel in.
Do people need to know what your client does first? Or does some trust need to be built right away?
Does it make the most sense for that higher-level call-to-action to appear right in the header for people who are ready for it or down towards the footer?
It’s almost always good to have that low-commitment option we talked about as the last item to catch anyone who hasn’t found something to click on yet, but other than that, the order is up to you.
And remember, anything is better than just displaying blog posts, so don’t be too hard on yourself 😉
- Grab a notebook and write down “who”, “what”, “where”, and “action” spread throughout the page
- Next to each item, write down what applies to you for your own website
- Go to your homepage and see if those 4 items are being supported
- If they’re not, get some changes made and apply the same process to your next client project