Your homepage’s job is to sell. Unlike your sales team, who aren’t available 24/7, your homepage is there whenever your prospects are searching for information. A strong homepage will capture prospects’ interest and motivate them to take action. Ensure you’re not losing good prospects by implementing these homepage best practices.
1. First Things First: Optimize Load Speed
In order for your homepage to resonate with prospects, they have to see the page. If your page takes too long to load, prospects will hit the back button before they even see it. According to research by Akamai and Gomez.com, 47% of web users expect a site to load in two seconds or less, and 40% abandon a site that isn’t loaded within three seconds. Long load times affect your search engine rankings as well. If your page takes longer to load, focus first on fixing the technical issues that are causing the problem.
2. Make Sure It Looks Good on Mobile Devices
In 2015, Google first announced that searches via mobile devices had exceeded those via desktops on a global basis. That number has continued to grow, and is higher in the U.S., although Google hasn’t provided exact figures. Regardless of the number, you’ll likely see this reality reflected in your site’s Google Analytics numbers. A significant portion of your prospects are looking at your site on a smartphone or tablet, so be sure that your site looks good and is easy to navigate on these devices. Images should resize, text and buttons should become larger, and elements should reconfigure automatically.
3. Make Your Message Visible and Understandable
People are busy and attention spans are short. Your headline needs to communicate your primary message quickly and precisely. Prospects should be able to immediately understand what you do and how you can help them when they land on your homepage. Be sure that the message explains exactly how your customers benefit by using your product or service — be specific. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for prospects to envision themselves using your product or service. And since you don’t want prospects to miss this message, place it at the top of the page where it’s clearly visible.
4. Keep Prospects Focused on the Action You Want Them to Take
In 2000, Stanford University psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper published a surprising study that revealed what happens when people are given too many choices. They set up a display table at local food market with 24 different kinds of jam and offered the jams for sale. Only 3% of the shoppers purchased a jam. Next, at the same market, they set up a table with only six different types of jam. Nearly 30% of the shoppers who encountered this table bought a jam. Choice overload results in people stepping away without taking any action.
With this fact in mind, pick one primary offer and one secondary offer to promote on your homepage. The primary offer should be for those prospects who are ready to purchase — a complimentary consultation, a free demo, or a trial subscription, for example. The secondary offer should be for those who are still researching and aren’t yet ready. This offer should provide something of real value to prospects, such as an e-guide, a helpful checklist, or mini-course. Be sure to ask for prospects’ email addresses so you can continue to provide them with helpful information as they go through the buyer’s journey.
5. Implement Insights from UI Design
"You should create the illusion that users aren’t interacting with a device so much as they’re trying to attain goals directly and as effortlessly as possible." (from Interactive Design Foundation)
UI designers are focused on one thing: making website interfaces easy to use so visitors stay on the site and take a desired action. While there are hundreds of design principles that boost the usability of a site, even just implementing the basics will elevate your homepage and increase conversions. Here are the essentials:
- Keep it simple. Remove everything that’s unnecessary and make all copy and labels clear.
- Group related items together. Spatial relationships between items clue prospects in to the nature of the items and what’s most important. Allowing plenty of space around elements will also boost readability.
- Stay consistent. Using common elements that people are used to interacting with will help prospects navigate your site more quickly.
- Use color and contrast strategically. Color and contrast can help direct attention and emphasize certain elements, making it easier for prospects to process what’s on your page.
- Use typography strategically. Proper use of typeface size and fonts will help prospects better scan and read your copy. Contrasting sizes (using large sizes for headlines and important messages, and smaller sizes for supporting text) will also help prospects process what you’re trying to communicate.
- Keep users aware with status updates. Using notifications to keep prospects aware of actions they’re about to take or errors will make interacting with your homepage easier.
- Use defaults to speed up the process of using your site. Creating defaults will allow prospects to accomplish tasks on your page more quickly. For example, have form fields pre-chosen or filled out if you know the prospect’s preferences and/or information.
These best practices will make interacting with your homepage easier and faster for prospects, increasing the chances that they’ll stay on your page long enough to be persuaded to take action.
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