A company’s homepage is often the first point of contact a consumer has with a company, and as such, is the single most important page on most websites. Users think of the homepage as the hotel lobby: They don’t want to linger there, they want to go to the bar, the restaurant or find their room. As a jumping off point, a company's homepage should be well designed, easy to navigate and packed with informative content that leads the “guest” deeper into the site.
The content on your homepage is also vital because it can greatly improve search engine placement. Why? Because the homepage is where the search engine spiders land first; they crawl this page and start to gather data on what search terms are relevant to your website. Keyword strategy should go hand in hand with the selection of content to feature on your homepage.
Another factor to consider is that you have a very small window of opportunity to make a good first impression. Research indicates that websites have approximately 10 seconds to grab the attention of visitors before they mosey on to other pages or sites. The content and graphics must quickly grab the attention of visitors and motivate them to probe deeper into your site to learn more about your company and its products.
Taking steps to improve your homepage will greatly increase the value of your entire site, as customers are increasingly looking at a company’s online presence before doing business with said company. Let’s take a look at some of the must-have content that should be included on all homepages.
Seems obvious, but how many times have you watched a TV ad and after it was over, you have absolutely no idea what is was advertising? Cool looking websites are great, but if visitors can’t understand who you are and what you do in a matter of seconds, you’ll lose them. Start the page with a tagline that summarizes what the site or company does.
One of the most important things to do in terms of winning more business is to differentiate your business from competitors. Be sure and include somewhere on your homepage a “hook” that explains the single greatest benefit of doing business with your company. The statement should quickly communicate your company’s position in the market and motivate visitors to learn more about it.
Between what your company does and your "hook," make sure you are telling visitors what you can do for them. In other words, what pain points does your company solve? This simple element is often overlooked, which can leave visitors feeling as if they are wasting their time on your site.
Be sure to include news and upcoming events on your homepage. The benefit is twofold: It gives visitors an idea of what you’re currently doing and proves that your content is up-to-date. Don’t let this section take up too much space. Use teasers and provide a link to a dedicated “news” page for visitors who want to read more.
Lend your homepage some immediate credibility by dropping the name—or better yet include the corporate logo—of some of your better-known customers, press mentions or affiliated companies.
The visual appeal of your homepage is important to attracting and retaining visitors, but don’t use graphics that slow down page load times. Don’t pick graphics with large file sizes. Even if you shrink the image once you’ve uploaded it, that doesn’t change its file size.
If you’re lucky, most visitors to your homepage are looking for content deeper in your site, so provide them with an easy way to find it. Be sure your navigation bar is easy to use and provides visitors with a clear preview of the type of content your site contains. Also include some type of “call-to-action” button to encourage some type of immediate response from visitors.
Making a good first impression is vital to success of your company’s website and the front door of your website is your homepage. Encourage visitors to open that door by providing informative, timely content and delivering it in a visually appealing way that instantly engages prospects and customers and motivates them to probe deeper.
What content do you consider "must-have" for the homepage? Share your input in the comments below!
Barb Schmitz is professional writer with more than 20 years of experience writing for B2B and B2C publications and web sites. She served as an editor on Computer-Aided Engineering magazine for more than 10 years before starting her own PR/freelance writing business in 2000. Her expertise includes interviewing, researching and writing whitepapers, blogs, eBooks, case studies, and feature articles.
photo credit: Leo Reynolds