What’s all the fuss about Homepages? (And how much do I really need to know?)

A homepage is the prime real estate on a site.

It’s usually the first page people see — and because people have incredibly short attention spans, it might well be the only page they see.

Its worth figuring out how to make it count.

From what I’ve noticed, every good homepage has these 6 things.

1. A striking image

This part of the homepage is more about sentiment than information.

Its an opportunity to create an instant, emotional connection with your visitors.

You’re trying to communicate your message in its simplest, purest form (Inception-style!).

Think striking, big, powerful — but simple.

For example, CharityWater.org featured this photo as a full-width banner across their homepage.

This is a great image because it allows visitors to understand the point of the entire website in one glance. It also provokes a powerful, emotional response.

2. A simple statement about what you do

We’ve all seen those landing pages that are completely gorgeous, but give no clear statement about what the site is actually for.

Don’t make this mistake.

Nobody likes being left in the dark. The first thing people see on your homepage should be a simple one or two-liner explaining what you do.

The simpler, the better. People should be able to take it in at a glance. For example, on our homepage we tell people “We are an interactive web firm” because this is the most important thing to know about us right off the bat.

3. Calls-to-action

Once users are done checking out the homepage, what do you want them to do next? This is what calls-to-action are for: they guide users to the next stage of your conversion process.

A call-to-action is a button or link on your site that gets visitors to do something.

Whatever it is, it needs to stand out without being pushy. The language should be urgent and punchy. Giving your call-to-action button a flashy color, or increasing the surrounding whitespace will make it pop on the page.

It’s a good idea to include different types of calls-to-action. Many people won’t want to commit to an immediate purchase — but they might still be interested in subscribing to a newsletter.

Which leads to #4…

4. Links to interesting content

Most people aren’t ready to buy anything right after they land on your homepage.

So if you want to keep these people on your site, you need to show that your website has something else to make it worth their while.

This where featuring content comes in. Your homepage should provide points of entry into different kinds of content that people can explore without having to buy anything.

News updates, photo galleries, a twitter stream, blog posts, case studies etc. — make sure people can access some of these things from your homepage.

Showcasing content is not just about keeping people on your site longer, it’s about making sure they come back. A changing array of content on your homepage will make your website feel like a dynamic and relevant resource that is worth returning to.

5. Social Proof

It’s a weird but very useful fact that people do things when they see other people doing them. We assume that other people have more information or insight into a situation than we do, and we follow their lead.

63% of consumers say they are more likely to make a purchase if the website has product ratings and reviews.

It may be kind of irrational, but why not take advantage of this psychological phenomenon to make your homepage more powerful?

Success stories, testimonials, reviews, statistics on customers served or photos of happy customers — they’ll all help make your homepage more persuasive.

6. Social Integration

Your homepage should be more than just a brochure for your product — it should be a platform to engage your community around what you are saying.

Social logins, sharing buttons or twitter streams will open up discussion on multiple channels and increase traffic to your website.

Even if you’re not trying to sell anything, bringing other people’s voices and thoughts onto your homepage will give your website importance and relevance outside the scope of your product.

Make sure you integrate with social platforms that are appropriate for your website. Different social media sites have very different audiences and brands. This infographic does a good job summing up the differences at a glance.

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