Business technology

Making your website’s homepage work

- March 4, 2009 2 MIN READ

DO make it blatantly obvious what your website is about

Whilst this sounds blatantly 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 your size, need clarity of purpose.

DO make website’s 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.

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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 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. You should see my copy.

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.

What homepage elements keep you reading or drive you away in frustration? I look forward to reading your thoughts!