Websites can be one page, or they can be many. It really depends on what you’re shooting for. You know it’s important – but how important is it? Does the homepage matter more than a product page? How much information should be on the homepage?
You’ll find a lot of articles out there that talk about best practices, including this one, but they should all come with a caveat: every business is unique. If you sell lawnmowers online, that process will be significantly different than if you sell hair products.
That said, take all the information here, and from in other places, and test it out. The pages that do the best are the ones that try new things, tweak, and try again. Eventually, you’ll come across a winning formula that will work (until you discover the next best formula).
Let’s start with the most obvious part of your homepage conversion process: tracking. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
Obviously, Google Analytics will top most people’s list, so you’re not going to have to look very hard to find a consensus there. There’s a reason that 51% of fortune 500 companies use it.
Analytics will tell you a lot about your website that may not be obvious at first. For example, you know that people aren’t adding a product their cart, but you don’t know why. Analytics may surprise you by showing that that something on the page is distracting them and taking them off the page – like an amazing article or video they want to read. Great content is good, but this placement would be bad as everything on your page should be directed at adding the product to the cart, if that’s the goal. Great content should bring people to your page, not distract them.
There’s not enough room in this article for an in-depth tutorial, but once you’re set up, you’ll want to add goals and conversion tracking. This will go a long way to letting you know what’s working and what isn’t.
First Page Visitors See
Your homepage is often the first page visitors see. If you check your analytics, it’s usually at the top. This is normal for the vast majority of pages.
If your homepage is the entry page for the vast majority of visitors, it needs to be impressive. You need to capture their attention and direct them towards the goal you want accomplished. This is the whole point of your homepage.
The Second Page They See
If it’s not the first page, it’ll frequently be the second page. If visitors that come to your site are hitting a different landing page, like an article or product page, many people will click on the homepage to learn more.
If you’re following the principals of creating great content, chances are they’ll want to see more. The homepage is a natural place to click through. Again, analytics will come in useful in showing you how many people are clicking through to the homepage from their landing page.
It’s possible to have many landing pages, especially if you’re a content driven site, so your homepage is really important as a catch all. Once they’re done with their landing page, your homepage is what sells them on the rest of your content.
Making a Great Homepage
Once you know the value of the homepage, and how people are reaching it, you’re able to tackle the efficiency of it.
Here are a few ways you can help to increase conversions.
- Define Your Goal. You need a goal. Something. Anything. Is it to click a specific article, buy a product, sign up to an email list, share something, etc. Whatever your goal is, make sure everything you do is targeted at achieving this goal.
- Have Great Visuals. Most of the time your homepage won’t have a lot of time to get the point across. The best way to provide clarity and avoid confusion is to use visuals. Stunning visuals. It may seem shallow, but looks matter. Make sure your visuals are up to snuff.
- Branding. This is something that shouldn’t need to be said, but unfortunately too often companies do a terrible job branding their homepage. It’s more than just a logo at the top. It’s the whole flow of the page. From colors, to interactive features. Everything should fit with the brand to achieve the goals you’ve set out.
- Navigation. There’s a reason user UX (user experience) designers cost big bucks. UX designers have one thing in mind: make the user’s experience perfect. Their whole job is to take your page layout and translate it into a way that users would actually interact with it. Your homepage is where this tactic is extremely important.
- Call to Action. CTA’s aren’t just a button at the bottom, it’s a strong ask from your audience. You need to sell them on the ask, and then flat out ask. It needs to be brief, and firm. If you drop in a CTA too soon, the user will skip it. Too late, and the user may have moved on.
A/B Testing of Your Homepage
If that’s a lot to digest, and you have no idea if what you’re doing is right, it’s time for an AB test. Change your homepage to try something different and measure the results. Are the results better or worse than before? Keep what’s better, replace what’s worse. Rinse and repeat until your goal is complete.
The homepage is the front gate to the brand castle. If you want people to come in, that gate better be darn impressive.