Your website's homepage is increasingly the first impression of your business,
and this piece of prime real estate can make or break your credibility.
So what can you do to keep your visitors reading?
DO make it blatantly obvious what your website is about
Whilst this sounds pretty obvious, it's the one thing you need your website's homepage to achieve. A concise blurb together with taglines, menus and headings should immediately identify who you are and what you do.
DO set the theme and tone for the rest of your website
Although your website's homepage does not have to be identical to the rest of your website, it's vital that it sets the theme and tone. Consistency between pages means your visitors won't have to re-learn the way your website works each time they browse to a new page.
The layout grid, menu names, colours, fonts and writing style should not be up for negotiation. This is particularly important for those visitors who don't land on your homepage upon entry.
DO tie your layout with your call to action
Think of how you'd like your sections to flow together, then logically organise them on the page to lead to your call to action. Whether you'd like your visitors to sign up to your newsletter or read your blog, or you want them to buy a house online, all websites, regardless of size, need clarity of purpose.
DO make your homepage text easy to scan
Stick with short blocks of two to three sentences. Bolden your carefully considered keywords, but don't be too bold-happy; you'll annoy rather than assist.
DO make it a cinch to contact you
Having a contact page with your contact details may not be enough. If your call to action requires your visitor to pick up the phone and make a booking, then make sure the call to action and the phone number is on your website's homepage.
Go one step further and have this available on every page. Many print a particular page from a website for future reference or to show someone else. Make it easy for them to contact you without having to revisit your website.
DON'T make me think
This is what your website's homepage - actually, your entire website - needs to do. Steve Krug's book Don't Make Me Think! chats about how we really use the web and techniques to make our websites a breeze to use. I love this book because it's to the point, purposely short and a great laugh to boot.
DON'T try to promote everything
You'll only clutter your website's homepage, stuff up the layout and make your visitors think. Constantly remind yourself about the role of your homepage and stick to it.
Don't have a Flash spectacular as your homepage
Not only are you making it difficult for search engines to crawl and index the key page of your website, you are driving your visitors to click on one very popular button: skip this intro. Don't let your visitors start their website experience on the wrong click.
DON'T scare the wits out of your visitors with music
They won't be impressed or likely to visit again. Enough said.
DON'T use images that take an age to load
Images too big in data size will keep your visitors waiting... and waiting. Use images which are small in size and load quickly yet are sharp and clean to view. Unprofessional images portray unprofessional business.
By Amanda Jephtha, she designs and copywrites simple, effective websites for small businesses - without the fluff or jargon. Visit: www. untangletheweb.com.au.