Your homepage is arguably the most important page on your website. It’s usually the first page visitors will come across, and where they’ll decide if it’s worth their time to explore further. So isn’t it worth spending extra time to build a successful homepage?
(The answer is yes, by the way!)
As I mentioned in the first post of this website refresh series, you should be putting all relevant information on the homepage, while still keeping it looking tidy. Consider it an outline of what visitors will find elsewhere on your website.
What exactly do I mean by “relevant information”? I’m so glad you asked. To begin with, there are three potential client questions you’ll want to make sure you answer on your homepage.
Your Guiding Framework
These are the questions you’ll want to answer as you create copy and content for your website:
- Can you fix my problem? – What’s the service you provide? How can you make a potential client’s life easier? Remember that your website should be written for the website visitor, not for you. Think about why they should care about what you offer and phrase things accordingly.
- Do you work with people like me? – This means making sure you prominently display any information that’s tailored towards your target demographic. For dog trainers, this usually centers around including your location or service area (you’d be surprised how many people forget to put this on their website!). It could also mean making sure your your images or writing suggests who your services are tailored to. Ie. If you live in an area with a lot of German shepherds, make sure you include a picture that shows off your amazing shepherd training skills!
- Can I trust you? – You can put together the world’s most beautiful business website, but what’s the point if it doesn’t convert visitors into clients? In order to do this, you’ll need to create trust by proving that you can actually do what you’re promising. You can do this by including ratings, client testimonials, or logos from known organizations and your certifications. The easiest way to create trust is by including reviews on your website — I’ll go into further detail below.
Ok, now that you know the basic framework to build on, there are some specific items that you’ll want to make sure you include. Here are the most important elements to build a successful homepage:
If you’ve ever needed to find the logo or name for a company and not been able to, you’ll understand this:
Properly branding your website is crucial to its success.
Common placement for logos is at the top left or top center of the homepage. It’s also common to make the logo a link to the homepage.
Before you ask, yes, I do recommend that you follow these common practices. Why? Because people are already familiar with them, which means those are the places they’ll look for your logo and click to get back “home.”
If your logo is a textless image or acronym, make sure the name of your business is also displayed prominently! The worst thing you can do for yourself is let people guess your name. How will they ever be able to recommend you to their friends otherwise?
Use Headers to Emphasize Important Text
(…And use them sparingly. Too much BIG text means nothing will actually stand out.)
You’ve only got a couple of seconds to convince folks that your page is worth staying on, so use your headers wisely. Explain what you have to offer in a concise and clear sentence or phrase.
Use subheaders and regular body text to further explain what you offer and how you differ from the competition. Again, keep your writing short and to the point. Some sentences might only be a few words.
Some paragraphs might be just a single sentence.
And use plenty of white space around all of the writing to keep your page from looking overwhelming.
As you think about your content, remember that your website is for your customers, not for you. That means that everything should be phrased as a benefit to them. What are the problems you can resolve for your clients? How can you make their life easier, or better?
For more on copywriting, check out my Blog Writing 101 post here — All the tips here apply to content throughout your site!
Include a Clear Call to Action
A business’s website is only as good as its ability to get clients to take the next step. That next step might be scheduling a consultation, booking a service, signing up for a membership, or a million other things!
Don’t make visitors to your website guess what they need to do to. If they can’t figure it out easily, they’ll move on to the next person.
Be explicit in your wording. “Click here,” “Sign up with this form,” or “Call now to book!” are all clear calls to action. Find the messaging that works for whatever your next step is, and put it front and center on your homepage.
Make it Enticing with Images
Most people are visual. Think about it: If you’re staring at a page full of only text, do your eyes immediately glaze over?
Yeah, me too.
Include images to hook website visitors in and keep them interested. Building a successful homepage means having a good balance of visual appeal and thoughtful content.
If you’re just starting out or don’t have your own photography, here are some of my favorite free image resources online. If you’re thinking about getting professional photos taken, be sure to read these best practice guidelines first.
Prove That You Can Do What You’re Promising
This gets into the nitty gritty of answering that important question I mentioned earlier: “Can I trust you?”
New technology makes it easy for anyone to create an online business, regardless of how much experience or knowledge they actually have. (And that’s not even counting all the catfish and fake websites out there.)
So how do customers decide who to work with?
Reviews and testimonials are key to establishing yourself as an authority online. Place these prominently on your website — They can have their own page if you’d like, but I’d recommend including a few favorites on your homepage.
Don’t have any reviews yet? Reach out to some of your past or current clients to see if they’d mind writing a sentence or two about how they’ve enjoyed working with you. Most people are happy to help!
You can also encourage future clients to leave reviews by linking to your Google listing, Yelp page, or other online review listing page on your website, in your email signature, or on any electronic documents you share with them. If you don’t currently manage your Google listing, here’s an overview of why you should be!
Offer Clear Guidance for Website Navigation
This is a bit of a weird one, as it involves taking people away from your homepage. But it’s an important one to consider as you build the layout of your website.
In the spirit of not making people guess what you want them to do, make your menus super easy to navigate. Convention states the main menu should go at the top or left side of the page.
Give the buttons clear labels like “Contact,” and “About.” The more creative you get with these, the harder it’ll be for someone to find what they’re looking for. Don’t create a scavenger hunt to find your email address or phone number; chances are they’ll give up and leave your website.
To make it even easier for people to find exactly what they’re looking for, make sure to include an easy-to-find search bar in your design as well.
Now that you know how to build a successful homepage design, you’re ready to write some awesome content.
I linked you earlier to some of my writing tips to engage readers, and those are a great starting point for your website writing. But in order to sell your products and your business, you’ll need to write like a marketing professional.
Luckily you don’t need to take a course for that (though I do offer one!). Just stay tuned here — I’ll be back next week with tips on how to write copy around your services and products.