Now, Take My Homepage….Please!
Do you consider your website’s homepage an engaging window into your business? Or is it more of a joke?
“Hey kids! What’s the deal with homework? You’re not workin’ on your home!”
— Jerome Allen Seinfeld
Think of your company’s website as a stand-up comedy act. Basically, your homepage is the “opener” of your performance; you only have 10 to 20 seconds to grab the attention of your audience.
If you’re successful in doing that, they’ll keep reading and start clicking through your site to learn more about you.
So what do you need on your homepage to keep them from leaving just when you’ve started your act?
It’s all about your “material.”
If you have a simple goal — keep your visitor’s attention — then keep it simple. But like a good standup routine, you want to start strong (and finish strong).
Think strategically, and put yourself in their shoes. What would you want to know? Maybe stuff like this:
- Who are you?
- What do you do/offer?
- What’s special or unique about you?
- And perhaps most importantly: What’s in it for them? (See my previous column about the “WIFM.”)
Other elements on the homepage include the navigation bar(s) and menu(s), which you covered when building the site. But don’t forget to include clickable links within the copy, as well as helpful widgets like an email subscription form.
Homepage appearance counts.
Most old-school comedians went with the suit-and-tie look. Today, most acts have a “come as you are” wardrobe — but whatever they wear, it fits their personality and material.
While there are countless website designs to choose from, your homepage needs to accomplish more than any other page on your site. For starters, it has to fit your company brand, your industry and your target audience.
And it IS all about your audience. So make sure the focus is where it needs to be on your homepage, and that the design basically leads the visitor’s eye to where you want it to go.
Another important consideration is how your visitor is viewing your site; it could be on their desktop or laptop, their tablet or their smartphone.
That’s why responsive design — which means that your design will adjust for optimal viewing on whatever device is being used — is where it’s at. Especially since the majority of people today use their phone for pretty much everything. So you definitely want to think mobile!
Pro Tip #1: You will be tempted to “make the logo bigger.” Not only will you annoy your graphic designer and website developer, it’s just not necessary. Resist this temptation.
Pro Tip #2: Stick to one font. Too many different fonts just confuse everyone’s eyes and dilute your brand look.
Pro Tip #3: Do a yearly review of your entire site and update when necessary. Design styles and technology trends change — for example, Flash is “dead” and those “slider” widgets are played out. (Kind of like the phrase “played out.”)
Focus on your delivery.
Some comedians tell longer stories, some deliver short, punchy one-liners. Some are loud and obnoxious (think Roseanne, Sam Kinison and Lewis Black), some are mellow and a bit weird (like Steven Wright, Emo Phillips and Mitch Hedberg).
Your brand voice should be strongly represented on your homepage. If you’re formal and professional, write like that. If you’re informal and fun, give it some life!
But remember not to cram a million things onto the page. You don’t want to give it all away — and frankly, you should save a lot of stuff for your other pages. For example, don’t tell the whole story of how your company started on the homepage. That’s what the “About Us” page is for.
And for Merriam and Webster’s sake, check for typos and grammar! There’s nothing worse than losing a potential customer because they see a typo and think “well, if they can’t spell stuff right on their homepage, who knows about the quality of their [product/service]?”
It’s show and tell, not just tell.
Earlier era comedians, like Johnny Carson, relied heavily on spoken jokes. Later, Jay Leno moved into video humor, and Jimmy Fallon brought visual impersonations into the mix. So I’ll stop talking and show you what a good landing page looks like. Check out what Hubspot has recognized as the Best Website Homepage Examples.
Does your homepage stand up to scrutiny? (See what I did there?) Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below. And please share this blog with your social networks if you found it interesting!