The home page of a website is the most critical page of the whole site: it is the landing page for your entire business.

The home page must offer a compelling experience of your businesses key value both in feel and in the copy.  And the impact must be immediate—you have on average only 3-5 seconds to get someone’s attention.

In priority order, here are the questions that need to be answered with a minimal amount of copy embedded in a clean and clear design:

1. Is this interesting, entertaining, or critical to me?

You’re competing will all kinds of other personal demands on your viewer’s time: fun activities, tasks that need to be completed, general entertainment, and an endless list.  In a nutshell, what is different about your website?  Convey that in imagery and headlines that reflect your message and your personality.  Be creative, clear, and compelling.

2. What are you offering?

Once you have someone’s attention because your website looks intriguing or compelling, you need to make it obvious what you are offering.  That’s so people know if this is something relevant to them.  If figuring this out is too hard for them, then out the door they go.  So make sure you’ve got something in a headline about what service or product you sell.   Secondarily, have some information in there about why you’re better than anyone else in your unique way of delivering, creating, or servicing.

3. Who are you?

Trust is an important factor in people’s buying decision process.  For you to have people pay for your product, service, or digital offering they need to have a sense of who you are, how credible and responsible you are, whether you’ll deliver, and if you’re reliable.  This is why referrals are so important and the contribution social media makes to your website—all of that visible interaction conveys trust.

You can begin to create credibility with testimonials—one right on the home page—and with a brief description of your business and its credentials.

4. What difference can you make for me?

Making a difference in people’s lives is a key foundation for purchasing.  We don’t buy just because we need it in places like the United States and Europe.  We have so many choices that now we buy because a product or service promises to improve our life experience in some way: we’ll get the girl or guy we want, we’ll have the prosperity we desire, we’ll have fun, or we’ll feel better—and more.  So what difference are you going to create for people who do business with you?

5. What do you want me to do on this page?

Every page of your website needs to have a call to action—and also a flow of action: two different things that relate to one another.

The flow of action is the path you want someone’s eye to follow when they arrive at your website home page (or any landing page for that matter).  Heatmaps for interactions on websites show that the hottest spot on the page is the top left then the flow is to the right diagonally downward.  That’s your critical real estate and you actually want to lead your viewer’s eye on that path so that your messages are reinforced by their natural inclinations.  So the first thing you want them to do is follow that flow.

The second action you want them to take is to either buy what you’re offering on the page (with money, with an email address, or with a click) or go to another page on your website.  You want to make it absolutely clear what they should do next.  If they want to look at something else on your site, browse around, explore the nooks and crannies, then great!   But if they’re short on time make sure you’ve given them the most direct A to B path possible.

6. What do you want me to do then?

If you’re lucky (and good) then you get to answer the last question about what they should do after they’ve taken all the obvious paths and they’re still hanging out.  How can they stay connected to you if they like what they see?  What else can you offer them and how will you do that?  How will you show your appreciation for their time spent on your website?

Invite them to continue to have the latest information about whatever it is you do by signing up for your newsletter, or tips and insights, or action alerts or whatever you want to call it.  Email is still the best way to nurture and encourage sales once they have left your website.

Have something for people to download — with or without an email.  I encourage asking for an email address — if they’re interested enough to download, they’ll probably be interested in more.  At that point, you are expanding an existing relationship instead of creating it from scratch.

Ask them to participate in your social media activities— “Like my page” “Follow me on Twitter” “Follow my business on LinkedIn”— so they can get the latest info delivered where they like to hangout.

Interesting quotes, words of wisdom, jokes, cartoons, suggestions, and encouraging thoughts of the day—these are all ways to appreciate the person who stopped by your website by making just a little difference in their day.

Finally, above all else give your visitors a great experience of you and the personality of your business.

Show them what it’s like to be a valued customer, someone you care about.  This is your opportunity to let them see how you treat the people that matter to your business.

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  1. Brian December 12, 2011 at 8:02 am - Reply

    Great article Katheryn. Everything you need and nothing you don’t. Interesting that our attention span is down to 3-5 seconds. I feel for the next generations. With technological advancements, their span will be measured in nanoseconds. 

  2. logo design February 27, 2013 at 9:53 pm - Reply

     You are absolutely right that home page is the first impression of a website and it can easily explain everything about any website or business. In this scenario your shared points are very important and effective to understand the basic and essential things regarding a website home page. Every designer and webmaster should keep in mind these things when he/she is going to create a website.

  3. Keely Worth June 16, 2014 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    Hi Kathryn – good read. Really good points to keep in mind.

    I think if you up the font on your headings here they’d be easier to read. They should be h2 not h5. Hope I’m being helpful rather than critical!

    • kagorges June 16, 2014 at 11:26 pm - Reply

      Thanks Keely! I just switched the theme on this site and didn’t go through to correct headings 🙂 I soooo appreciate you making the comment. And I’m glad you enjoyed the content as well.

      • Keely Worth June 16, 2014 at 11:44 pm - Reply

        Awesome – looks heaps better. It’s a really good post – sharing in a group I’m in and a Google+ Community 😉 – and my social networks

  4. Pavlina Yanakieva February 26, 2015 at 11:27 pm - Reply

    Great article, Kathryn! Simple framework but it offers a lot of good insights.

    • kagorges March 28, 2015 at 11:02 pm - Reply

      Thanks Pavlina!

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