With the web and the way we treat the process of online search evolving quicker than any of us can possibly imagine, the need for a GREAT website has never been greater.
But here is the question: How do you define the phrase “Great Website?”
As I’ve been speaking and consulting about this topic over the last couple of years, this has become my favorite question to ask clients and audiences.
And 9 times out of 10, no matter the industry the person is in, the answer sounds something like this:
“I want to find what I’m looking for…and I want to find it quickly.”
Think about that for a second.
If we had asked that very same question (What makes for a great website?) 10 years ago the answer likely would have been something like, “That they have one” or “A site that looks nice.”
But today, the game has changed…big time.
Sure, looks and aesthetics matter, but no matter what anyone (crazy web designers included) may suggest, what carries the day and puts money in your pocket as a business is that searchers on your site can find what they’re looking for, and they can find it quickly.
And if they can’t, you’ve lost them, likely for good.
If you allow this simple philosophy to dictate your website’s design, good things will assuredly happen.
The Only Purpose of Your Website’s Homepage
This is especially true when it comes to solid home page design. If I were to ask you what the main purpose of a website’s homepage was, what would you say?
Truth be told, most business owners can’t articulate the answer to this question. And because of this, their homepage design is incredibly ineffective. Often, copy-writing, calls to action, and images are all over the place, without rhyme or reason. This problem could be fixed if businesses understood what I feel is the guiding philosophy to great homepage design, which is:
The purpose of the homepage of a website is to get the visitor to page 2.
Think about that for a second. Once they are there (page 2), now they have expressed their interest. Now they’ve answered the classic retail question, “Can I help you find what you’re looking for?”
But if they don’t get to page 2, we’ve essentially accomplished nothing. They have not begun to move down the sales funnel. Instead, they’ve taken a peak and kept moving on. When it comes to the internet, this should be every business’ greatest fear when considering proper site design, especially the home page.
That being said, I want to discuss today some of the most common home page design flaws that we see in the business realm today and the driving philosophies that can help eliminate each. Here goes: 5 Homepage Design Flaws that Most Businesses Totally Mess Up
1. Sliders are Mankind’s Worst Invention:
I’m going to make a wild estimate here and say that almost half of all business homepages utilize sliders these days. For those of you not familiar with the term, a “slider” is a section of the page that shows images (usually with some type of headline) that rotate every few seconds.
Despite their popularity though, sliders are a design disaster.
As searchers looking to solve our problems quickly, they slow us down. They are distracting. They rarely if ever convert. And because they’re “time sensitive,” they don’t allow for a longer textual message. (Have you ever found yourself reading a slider message only to have the next image scroll across the screen, cutting you off? Bet you loved that, didn’t you! 🙂
The solution to this problem is simple. If you’re using a slider currently, just stop. Refine the message. Make it cleaner. Make it easier. That’s what the searcher wants.
2. Headlines should never be about YOUR STUFF.
I love this subject, likely because, from what I’ve studied, only about 5% of businesses do it right.
Here is the core principle to understand: People don’t care about you, nor their business. Their only care is the problem they’re trying to solve.
This is why a great homepage headline is about the problems your company solves, not about the product you offer or the service you provide.
If you want to read an extremely popular post on this subject, go here, but I’ll give a quick example.
Let’s say you’re company offers cloud computing services. If you were like most businesses, you’d say something really ineffective like:
Offering cloud computer services globally. Fast. Reliable. Cost effective.
These are the types of statements web and branding companies work with their clients for months to develop and they’re awful. Why? It’s not about the customer.
So to make it about the customer instead of the company, here is an example of doing it right:
Keep your company’s records digitally backed up forever without experiencing downtime ever again. And save huge in the process.
See the difference?
3. No one cares about company news
Can anyone tell me why companies are so fixated on posting *their* news on the homepage??
Look, the only time company news is relevant is when you’re a public company (or startup) looking to inform your investors or the industry. Beyond that, stop yapping about your latest company award that really means nothing to anyone other than those that actually work for you.
Yes, I know this sounds harsh, but this goes back to understanding the “It’s about them” paradigm. This is why it’s fine to have a news section of your website, but the homepage is simply not the proper place in the majority of cases.
4. If you’re looking for them to convert, give them LESS
Less is more.
Less is more.
Less is more.
This may be the most important “best practice” of great homepage design as we move forward in the digital age . Remember, consumers define a great web experience by being able to find what they’re looking for and finding it quickly. With this reality, slamming a bunch of text, or buttons, or calls to action, or videos can get confusing and have the opposite desired effect on the searcher.
For this reason, it’s critical as a company you understand what the goals of your site are, including that of the homepage, and then design it accordingly, not allowing for unnecessary distractions.
5. Stop trying to tell them everything about your company
As mentioned earlier, the purpose of a great homepage is to get the searcher to page two. Once they’re there, they’ve now indicated what they’re interested in and the teaching (from you to them) can begin.
Many businesses don’t understand this principle and end up slamming their homepage with text—stuff about the company, its history, its people, etc.
Although all this information may be nice, it’s out of place on the homepage
Obviously, when it comes to design, there are dozens of other recommendations we could make with respect to what is and is not effective. Furthermore, one could argue exceptions to the rules above in many cases. That being said, I’d love to get your thoughts on these. What suggestions would you add to the list? What changes have you made to your site’s homepage that have led to the most success?