More people than ever are online for the holiday season. So what is it about certain home pages that they find inviting, reassuring and memorable? Why do these pages motivate them to take action? In other words, what makes a winning home page?
Clear communication, that’s what. A winning home page successfully filters out great customers and gets the visitor to do what the business wants them to do and the customer/prospect is happy to do it. Everyone wins.
Making a List…Checking It Twice
Santa has a checklist for those who have been naughty or nice. Here is your home page checklist for making sure it’s in winning form and communicating exactly who you are and what you want from your online reader.
How many of these does your home page have?
- Subscribe bar.If you have a blog or newsletter ask your visitor to subscribe with a highly visible signup bar in a prominent position.
- Special Offer. Even better than a subscribe bar is a subscribe bar with a special offer.
- Search bar. Make it easy for a visitor to search your site. I prefer Lijit.com and use it on Spice Sherpa. You can set it to search only your site, an approved list of sites, or the entire web. I currently have Google’s search bar on KMwordsmith but plan to change it to Lijit.
- Call to action. State the obvious. On KMwordsmith there is a sticky note incorporated into the logo banner that says “call” with a phone number. Can’t get any more clear than that.
- Testimonial. Don’t bury all your testimonials inside your site. Posting one in a sidebar or incorporating it into your content is a great way to provide easy-to-see, third-party validation for your business.
- Up-to-date announcement/news/special offer. Do you have a special offer? Are you doing a presentation someplace? Has your company or product been recently featured in an article? Provide a brief announcement of it on your home page.
- Recommended reading. So many articles are buried in the navigation bar. Offer up any articles or resources inside your site that can help the reader. These suggestions will help pull readers deeper into your site.
- Social media share buttons. If you have a strong social media strategy help your visitors tweet, share, like, friend, attach, or recommend it.
Now let’s move to your content. Remember, most readers give a web page about three seconds before they decide to either read more or leave.
- Address your reader by name. Unless you are a nationally recognized brand a visitor needs to know if your site is right for them (remember the three seconds). Address your ideal reader by name. This filters out your potentially great customers from crowd. You can use questions (like I do on KMwordsmith) or mention the person by name (the Spice Sherpa tactic).
- Introduce yourself. Don’t forget a brief introduction of who you are. Your introduction shouldn’t dominate your content but it does help the reader know where they are.
- Another call to action. Is there anything specific you want your reader to do? Then tell them, politely of course. From pointing them to a page to asking them to search your site; offer some directions. People don’t want to have to think about how to use your site. Make it easy for them.
Yes, these are the elements to a winning home page. However, it would be negligent and a disservice on my part if I didn’t emphasize the importance of design and readability. If possible get a professional or, at the very least, a handful of people who will give you their honest opinion to review your site and share their candid opinion. A home page is probably your most valuable piece of online real estate. Why hobble it with anything less than a winning presentation?
Photo Attribution: Flickr: wcn247