Friday, 27 May 2011

Homepage 101: Create Good First Impression

How to Have a Compelling Homepage

Every section or page of your website is a landing page. This means online users can enter your website from anywhere through links from other websites or search engine queries. Why should you pay special attention in designing the homepage section then? Because  it is the only page that gives an overview of what the whole website contains. Even if users entered the site from the Products and Services section, there is a great chance they will still go to the homepage to get a feel of what other things to expect.  It is no surprise that the homepage mostly gets more page views than the rest of the pages. Knowing this, careful planning should be implemented to maximize the role of the homepage. But what makes up a compelling homepage? What goals or purposes should it fulfill?

Make it immediately clear who you are, what you do and whom you serve.

People visit your site to accomplish a mission, and they want to do it in a fast and convenient manner. You have two kinds of online audience to address, the first time visitors and the repeat visitors. Your first time visitors must be able to identify who you are and what you do in a matter of seconds. Anyone who glances at your homepage should be able to determine whether they came to the right page or not. Remember, users scan and NOT read online. Below are some tips on how to accomplish this:
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  • Include a simple and short introduction that summarizes what the company does, its products or services.
  • If your business has a tag line, place it on a strategic location (usually below the company logo).
  • Emphasize your unique selling proposition (USP). Communicate what sets you apart from others and why people should choose t do business with you. Avoid being too wordy.
  • Create a bold statement or a compelling story, something that create desire.

Have a clear purpose or call to action.

What do you want people to do when they visit your website? What should they do and where should they go next? Do you want them to contact you and give you their contact details? Then make the Contact Us from prominent on the homepage. Do you want them to start shopping? Then entice your customers first and provide a remarkable link where they can go shopping. Do you want them to join your email list? Give them a reason to, like a reward, freebie or an expectation, then provide clear instructions.

Above the fold.

In the newspaper industry, the most interesting stories are put above the fold. This is the visible part of the front page when the newspaper is folded. This came from the observation that people are most likely to read what is printed above the fold than what is printed beneath. The same can be applied in homepage design.  Put the most important components and call to actions "above the fold". This refers to the upper portion of the page so that visitors do not have to scroll down to find important information about you. Any additional information you want your customers to know you can put below the fold.

Other best practices you can employ:
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  • Provide clear, consistent and intuitive navigation
  • Showcase what is new or what is coming. Show featured products or suggest new sections to visit.
  • Give your customers a reminder to come back. This can be in a form of newsletter.
  • Do not overwhelm your customers by giving too much information. Instead of trying to address everything, use your homepage to stir users to stay and explore the whole website.

Pinoylancers, founded in 2008, is a Philippine-based team of professionals specializing in different IT fields. Recognizing the fact that every client has unique and distinct business needs, Pinoylancers constantly strives to become a one-stop shop that will offer and develop personalized end-to-end web technologies and solutions.
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