Your homepage. You know it’s important. It’s the most viewed page of your website and it has the power to make or break your audience’s experience.
It requires an even balance between all the elements. Done well, your homepage can captivate your audience and they then feel inspired to go on a journey through your website. If the page misses the mark though, your audience won’t stick around. It’ll mean the difference between getting a new enquiry or having a homepage that your audience only spends less than 30 seconds on and then leaves your website.
The question then is, what essential elements does your homepage need? What will make your homepage engaging enough for your audience to want to stay on your website longer?
Before we dive into them, it’s important to explore the main purposes of your homepage.
The main purposes of your homepage
Your homepage does the job of introducing your brand to your audience. Elements such as your logo, brand colours, photography, graphics and content all play a part in establishing your brand clearly. Pretty quickly, your audience gets an impression for what your business does, why you do it and what it feels like to work with you.
Of course, your other website pages then need to be consistent with your brand elements but your homepage really shines a spotlight on it.
I like to think of your homepage as a neat summary of your entire website. Your audience should be able to gain a lot of quick information about your business, your services, and what people are saying about your work just by being on this one page.
Do this summary well and your audience will be energised to journey through the rest of your website.
Providing too much information will leave your audience confused and overwhelmed. Providing not enough information will miss the mark and your audience will feel uninspired to stay on your website. Find the right balance and your homepage makes an impact.
A journey forward
Following on from your homepage being a summary of your website, a few key Call To Actions (CTAs) on the page help direct your audience. Chances are, your audience has come to your website for a reason.
- They may have heard good things about your services and want to read about them.
- They heard about your ebook and want to know how to get it.
- They may want to read more about you before getting in touch to work with you.
Along with the summarised sections on your website, your CTAs provide an invitation to read more. They then make it easy for your audience to take their intended path.
Overall, your homepage achieves a lot and it does so by having a few key elements. Below are some of the main ones.
Bite sized summary sections
Because your homepage can act as a summary for your website as a whole, dividing it up into sections helps your audience to quickly glean a lot of information. It’ll also help your audience to know where to journey to next.
The sections that you could include on your homepage are:
- Introductory section that summarises your services and why you do what you do
- Overview of each service
- About you and your ideal client
- One or two testimonials as social proof that you deliver the goods
- Feature section for your products if you sell ebooks or products
- Links to your latest blog posts
- Section for your free gift to subscribers
Depending on your business and website, you may only need a few of the above sections. Remember to keep each section bite-sized, kind of like a teaser for your audience to then want to read more.
Each section needs a clear heading that makes an impact. The truth is, not everyone reads every word on your homepage. Some people will read everything. And some people will look for headings to convey the key messages.
Spend quality time crafting your headings to ensure they:
- Clearly state what services you offer
- Highlight your points of difference
- Resonate with your audience’s pain points
- Invoke action
Call To Actions
With each section you feature on your homepage, include a CTA. This could either be in the form of a text link or a button. Either way, make it clear and inviting for your audience to want to click it.
As mentioned above, you want several key CTAs on your homepage as each visitor will have different intentions for being there. Don’t assume everyone wants to go to the same service page.
Let’s face it, no one wants to read an essay of words on your homepage. Leave that for your blog posts. With your homepage broken up into sections, using photos and/or graphics in these sections allows your audience to connect with you key messages in a different way.
Images do so well to tell your story and if you’re the face of your business, a photo or two of you will truly do wonders. Don’t shy away from putting yourself on your homepage. Invest in a professional headshot – it’ll give you the confidence to showcase who you are and why you love what you do.
Images and graphics also help to reduce the width of your text area. Refrain from having text extending across the full width of your website… your audience will quickly lose interest in reading your content like this. An image placed to the side of your content makes your short paragraphs easier to read.
How to know if your homepage is effective
Rather than guessing whether your homepage is doing its job, there’s a free tool that can let you know. Log into your Google Analytics account and start reviewing your website statistics. Key metrics that can give you some insights are:
Time spent on homepage
Go to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages
You’ll see a list of main pages. Let’s focus on the page that only shows “/” – this is your homepage.
In the table of stats, you then be able to see:
- How many people have viewed your homepage
- Average time spent on your homepage
Homepage bounce rate
On the same table, you can see your homepage bounce rate. This is the percentage of visitors who land on your homepage and then leave (“bounce”) rather than continuing to view other pages within the same site.
The lower the percentage of this occurring, the better. Your homepage does the job of directing your audience to the next page of your website. If the majority of your homepage visitors aren’t doing this though, there’s something amiss with either your CTAs or how clear your message on the page.
Go to Behaviour > Behaviour Flow
This flowchart visually shows you the journey your audience takes through your website. As we’re only looking at the homepage, just focus on the “/” page, which should be the flowchart at the top. If you click on the “/” box, you can select “Highlight traffic through here”.
This will then show you the top pages that your audience went to after the homepage. Analysing this from time to time gives you insights into how effective your CTAs are – are most people heading to your main CTA page from the homepage? Or different pages completely?
Use the stats to make subtle changes
Reviewing your homepage statistics can give you valuable insights into what’s working for you. Making subtle changes to your homepage and then reviewing your stats will also improve its effectiveness over time.
Remember, your website (and homepage) are never really ‘finished’. Making tweaks to this important page is highly recommended. Let your homepage evolve as your business grows or changes direction.
Wanting more website tips and advice? The Website Workbook is perfect for you.