What Is a Home Page About?

With purchasing your own piece of the Internet super Information highway you have confirmed yourself as a serious online marketer. Before you dive into the wonders of WordPress it is time to sit down with a piece of paper and plan your online business.

  • What exactly is your site about?
  • Who is your target visitor?
  • What will they be looking for that you can supply?

Write these fundamentals down at the top of the page.

If you were looking for your site, what would you do? It is likely you would start with a search engine such as Google or Bing so I suggest you do just that. Type your keywords in and do some research on your competition. What do you like about their site? What made you want to leave in a hurry? This is a valuable yet free education into what makes a successful website.

Some sites look like a parking place for ads. It can be very hard to find what the site can offer as any content is buried under advertising. First impressions are vital – one click of the back button and your visitor is gone for good. If all that fills your browser window is a large header graphic and some ads then would you bother scrolling down to see more? Worse still, imagine one of those ads offers just what you were looking for, you would click away without even remembering the rest of the site was there.

I’m all for adding income streams such as Adsense to your site but limit the advertising on your home page to some discreet links near the bottom of the page. If your website visitor has read down to the bottom of the page and not found what they were looking for then certainly offer them some alternatives but don’t hurry their departure.

It may seem pessimistic to think about your visitor leaving when they have only just found your site but don’t miss any opportunity to encourage them to return. Make sure you have a simple sign up form on your home page and offer visitor’s something useful. This may be a newsletter to keep them informed of your latest offers or an online course, for example. This is the only circumstance when a pop-up may be appropriate on your home page.

Hit the target

What is your target visitor looking for? If they are shopping around for the best price on something then they could probably care less ‘about me’. If you are offering a service or a business proposition however then this is a critical area for your consideration. You will want a welcoming head and shoulder photo of yourself with your name and contact details in plain view. If your visitor wants a good deal then your hottest offer will take this pride of place.

Is a picture worth a thousand words? If you are offering a graphic design service then by all means knock yourself out. If not then carefully consider how hard every image is working for you. Graphics are great for window dressing a site and making it more appealing. Graphics can also slow down your page’s load time. Have you ever given up when a page was too slow to show? Do you care that there may well have been a fantastic visual feast if you had waited longer?

Back to your piece of paper and work out where you want your visitor to go next. Try and keep the links from your main page at 5-10 only. There is such a thing as too much choice and too many options can give the impression that little of your site will offer what your visitor really wants. Would you spend time reading through lots of options when it is easier to click away and start again with another of the billion sites competing for your attention?

Less links the better

Not only are fewer links less confusing for your visitor but again fewer links mean a faster load time for your page. Work out the logical groups for your site’s information then link to these group menus from your home page.

What is the color scheme for your site? Do you want something vibrant to inspire action? Are calming pastels that instill confidence closer to your goal? You will want to keep within a simple palette of colors thorough out your site so it does not seem disjointed so consider your site livery carefully.

Missing the home page basics

Home page 3

There are a few usability practices, which Web designer should implement on the home page such as.
Home page length less than two screens at a resolution of 800×600, best would be to fit within one screen. Place strategic links on the first screen (upper half of the home page, if the home page exceeds one screen), as site visitor’s generally do not scroll on navigation pages and hence would miss the important links.

Links to site support tools such as site map or site search. About 30 percent of site visitor’s prefer finding their information using site search.

Therefore, it is crucial that Web sites provide search functionality (e.g. the search box) directly from the home page.

Link to privacy policy from the text navigation at the bottom and link to the company profile (navigation bar and text navigation bar.

Company logo available in the upper left corner. However, it should not provide an active link on the home page but from any other pages within the site.

Navigation consistency with the rest of the site. Ensure that the navigation on the home page is consistent with the rest of the site to avoid user confusion.

Common Mistakes Home Page Design

What pitfalls should companies avoid on their Web, Intranet or portal home pages?:

The home page of a Website, Intranet or portal is the most important page. It should tell site visitor’s, what they can do precisely deeper in the site or at least inform them, what they may be able to expect. However, in most cases, the home page is just a compromise to satisfy internal politics and neglecting site visitor’s needs. To set up an effective home page that matches corporate objectives and users expectations the following pitfalls should be avoided:

Too much Information instead of links

Many home pages provide detailed information such as complete news, company description, etc. or are overloaded with images. Site visitor’s do not want to read information on the home page nor guessing what might be hidden behind an image. They want to find a link to start navigating to the information, which they came for. Providing detailed information on the home page limits the space available for valuable links.

Further, it increases the risk that site visitor’s do not even start navigating the site, as they do not find their specific entry point to start their specific action or scenario. There are two types of pages, which apply to any Web applications such as Web sites, Intranets and portals.

Those are navigation pages and destination pages. Navigation pages allow site visitor’s discovering the options to navigate. Destination pages provide the information, which site visitors are looking for. The home page is the ultimate navigation page. It needs to provide as much as possible links to the various Web sections. The Web strategy determines the links from the home page to the site sections.

There are two major linking approaches

Individual link, which relates to one link for a complete Web section.

Category links, which is one link to a complete Web section, followed by links to further detail this section (sub-category links).

Provide category links for strategic Web sections that you want your target audience to browse and navigate to (for example for IT companies provide category and sub-category links to product and service overviews, customer engagements, download section). Use individual links for Web sections that target secondary audiences (for example company profile or recruitment).

Animated links

Even though that usability research clearly shows that animations such as rotating banners, animated text, etc. distracts site visitor’s, it is still used on many business sites. In most cases, marketing managers request Web designer to implement animations although designers know that animations are more destructive than increasing site effectiveness. Web designers need to clearly explain the differences between offline and online media. In offline marketing, publicity needs to attract the attention of prospects.

For example, if you are walking on a street, advertising such as ad posters must attract your attention, as you are not walking down a street to discover ads. In online media, site visitor’s already decided to go to a Website with a specific goal in mind (e.g. finding contact, product or support information, etc.). Hence, the Website does not need to attract the visitor’s attention.

There are successful concepts to replace animations such as the so-called hooks. Hooks are static images or graphics with a minimum of text to tell site visitor’s what they can expect by clicking on them. Hooks are not limited to the home page but can be used on all navigation pages. Effective hooks target the page audience. Place hooks on the home page that target the prime Web audience, on subsequent navigation pages, refine hooks accordingly to the page audience.

Not telling what site users can do on the site

Site visitor’s do not go unintentionally to a Website. They have a specific action in mind such as finding pricing information, applying for a job, downloading the annual report, etc. Using action verbs such as download, apply, compare, discover, etc. facilitates site visitor’s to find immediately the link to start their search.

Action verbs define further links (for example a link named product can be misleading as it does not tell what kind of actions will be available such as downloading, comparing, ordering, test-driving, etc.). Complementing links with action verbs helps to reduce site visitor frustration and to increase site effectiveness.

No Depth

An effective means for analyzing website traffic is to look at the number of hits per visitor for a time period. To do this, you simply divide the number of hits by the number of visitor’s for the time period in question. Time periods can be a day, week, month or quarter of a year. Don’t look at any time smaller than a day as the data may not create an accurate picture of the traffic.

Assume you have the best make money online site on the net. You have every variation. Logically, every visitor to the site should click through more than a few pages while looking for the perfect offer. Unfortunately, you find the server stats tell a different story.

In reviewing server stats, you learn that on average the site receives 5,000 visitor’s a day and 10,000 hits. Dividing hits by visitor’s, you discover to your dismay each visitor is looking at only two pages on average. This information is supported by the fact you’re only averaging a few sales a day. There are a few possible reasons for this poor performance:

Slow Site

A site with 1,000 products is going to require a very careful database design. I would guess 70 percent of database sites are fatally slow. By fatally, I mean they load so slowly that most dial-up users can’t navigate in the site. We are talking 30 to 40 second page load times. If you have this problem, you are immediately losing the 45 percent of people using dial-up.

Click Fraud

If you are running a PPC campaign, you must track the clicks in the campaign. A low hit to visitor ratio can often mean your PPC ads are being artificially clicked as such clickers rarely venture into the internal pages of a site.

Poor Advertising

This one is purely your fault. Your advertising must focus on keywords that are relevant to your site. If you are selling MMO site (Make Money Online), don’t place ads under health and fitness. If you do, people will click your ad, see health products and immediately leave. Know your limitations!

There can be a variety of reasons for low hit to visitor ratios. More often than not, slow load times are the answer. If the site is fast, then you need to dig deeper so you can figure out a way to make your visitor’s do the same.

Conclusion

Does your online business invite customers in for a peek? Does it look like a classy establishment or a flea market? Keep your homepage clean, clear and simple and it will welcome website visitor’s into your site.

Please contact me personally with any question you have.

Kind Regards Shane Lacey.

2 thoughts on “What Is a Home Page About?”

  1. Hi, what an interesting web post. I like the ‘start here’ page- very clear and straightforward. Lots of interesting, useful, valuable, and interesting information. You spark interest in the topic and if I were not already a WealthyAffiliate member, I would check it out from your site. Thank you for writing this; it is put together very well. CherrieAlesia

    Reply
    • Hello Cherrie, 

      Thank you so much for taking the time, to read my article on What a home page Is about. 

      Great to hear you are a WA member. 

      Wishing you continued success. 

      Kind Regards Shane.

      Reply

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