When someone lands on your website, it takes 50 milliseconds (that’s 0.5 seconds) for them to form their first impression of your business. One Mississ…that’s it! Your website has less than one second to make a good impression on a potential customer and convince them that you have the solution to their problem. We may not like judgey McJudgerson’s, but your potential customers are judging you, the quality of your products and the value of your services by the look and design of your website.
The judging typically starts with your home page, as it is mostly like the first page they will visit. If your website is a magnet for judgement, you need to ensure your home page is making a good impression, encouraging them to stay and even scroll to another page.
Here are SIX essentials of a perfect home page to make a positive, money-making impression:
- Top Header – Branding and easy navigation
When you click onto a website, the top header is typically the first section you see. It is usually home to the logo and menu.
You’d think this is a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many websites don’t feature their logo OR have inconsistent branding. This is the place to set the tone of your website with your branding. Ensure that you are featuring your main logo.
For your menu, keep it simple! Most small businesses don’t need any more than five main pages (About, Products or Services, Blog, Contact…and maybe portfolio, depending on what you do). Your goal is to keep it super simple for your reader and help them navigate to the most important content.
You can have a sub-menu with additional pages, but again keep it simple and only feature the most important pages.
Shrink or scroll?
As you scroll down the home page, the logo and menu need to shrink or scroll. If it doesn’t, it’s called a sticky menu, meaning it sticks to the top. One of my pet peeves is a large top bar that doesn’t shrink or scroll, leaving you with a very narrow viewing area for all your great content and photos. Ensure that your top bar shrinks or disappears as you scroll, so your viewer has the maximum amount of viewing area.
2. Engaging Header Image
We now know that it takes less than a second for someone to form an opinion of your website. So you want to ensure that the first image they see makes a positive impression. Underneath the logo and menu, is the area that pops up as soon as they go to your home page. It is usually your first opportunity to express your or your companies personality. So wow your potential customer with beautiful images and stand-out statements. We are visual creatures, so I love when beautiful photos are the first thing you see.
I just LOVE the images we used for Sue’s Ignite Fitness. They are colourful, she looks so strong and the statements are powerful!
Tips on a great header image:
- Ensure the image(s) loads quickly. You don’t want to make a bad impression just because the image takes so long to load
- Add some engaging or motivational words to your image. This is a great spot to make a connection, but make sure it is relevant and speaks to your ideal customer
- Change the images every few months to keep the look of your site fresh
3. Introduce Yourself!
When you meet a good friend in person, you typically give them a warm smile, a hello, and a big hug. Your home page should have the same warm, welcoming feeling. You are happy they are visiting your site, so show them with a great photo of you smiling and a welcome message. Your welcome message can be as simple as “Hey girl! Thanks for visiting!” Follow up your welcome with a short message about who you are and how you can help them. This is where you can link to your About or Services page.
This short friendly message should show that that you understand their problem (because every potential customer has a problem, they need help with) and let them know that you are there to help them solve their issue.
Jenna Kutcher (one of my favourite sites for inspiration) has an awesome welcome and into into who she is and what she does.
4. What are you offering?
After you have given your visitor a big virtual welcome, show them with big visual cue the three main things they can do on your website. You may have more than three offerings but keep it simple and pick the three most important things you want them to learn or do. Make it super simple for them to navigate the most important tools/offerings on your site.
What you can link to:
- Podcast library
- Blog archive
- About page
- Sign up for a free discovery call
5. Newsletter Sign-Up
It is critical to have an email sign up form on your home page, even if you are not sending out a regular newsletter. Don’t rely on your social media alone as a way to connect with your potential customers or make announcements. Email collection and building your email list is so important!
The best newsletter sign-ups offer potential customers a freebie in exchange for their email. Someone may hesitate giving you their email just because you asked for it. They are more likely to give you their email if they know they are going to get something juicy in return. There are tons of resources online with ideas for freebies!
To wrap your awesome homepage up with a pretty little bow is your footer. Your footer is a juicy little row(s) where you can give them one final blast of your branding, connect with them through social media or give them another page to navigate to.
I love a well-designed footer. In fact, after the header, it is next thing I layout when designing a new website.
Ideas for your footer:
- Most importantly, your logo (or secondary logo)
- Links to social media profiles
- Instagram roll
- Display a menu or blog categories
- Contact form
- Contact information
** Now don’t get me wrong, a homepage may have more sections on it, depending on what you do and your business. That’s okay too, as long as it has these essential elements and is well organized and flows.
Check out my portfolio to see some of the homepages I have recently designed that follow these rules.