In the constantly evolving digital age, visual representation online rules over everything else. So when you’re trying to showcase your creations online, remember you won’t get a second chance to make the perfect first impression. Depending on the nature of your visitors, this first exposure could very well be your only chance at conversion or monetization.
Moreover, it is particularly important in the case of websites (whether it is a product, corporate website or a blog). You have to realize and treat the homepage as the entry door to your business and creativity. If your visitors do not like what they see, they won’t hesitate to close the browser tab. Along the same lines, your homepage needs to instill a sense of credibility and trust in your users. Given the high level of competition in the market, they may browse competing services otherwise.
It does not matter how content rich your website may be. It will still be judged by the appearance of your homepage or the landing page. Your target audience might disregard the adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” This could be conscious or subconscious, as humans are naturally visual creatures used to making quick judgments.
We are also going to have a look at some exciting homepages to provide you with inspiration. Before we do so, however, let’s quickly analyze the elements necessary for a great homepage.
1. Elements of a good homepage
There is no ideal recipe for a perfect homepage that will appeal to everyone out there. However, you can follow a specific set of outlines that are more or less accepted by the majority of online users. Moreover, you can always customize your unique homepage so it stands out from the crowd.
Follow these guidelines when designing your homepage.
1.1. The homepage must explain your brand and service
Nowadays, more startups are using a single homepage website format where all the relevant information about the company is mentioned on the homepage. If you are a freelance graphic designer, for example, you can use the homepage to display everything from your professional background to previous works. Users are searching for meaningful solutions to their problems. So it’s critical that your homepage conveys in seconds how you are going to solve an issue or provide a service. If not, users will lose interest and the bounce rate will increase.
1.2. The homepage must resonate with your site niche.
When designing your homepage take care that it matches with the sensibilities of your core user group. For example, if your site is catering to doctors, then the design needs to be soberer without excessive design elements. In contrast, if you are a freelance graphic designer, you can be flamboyant and play with different design aspects to impress a potential client.
1.3 The homepage design should be responsive
With so many different types of devices that users can use to access your website, it is essential to appear perfectly aligned irrespective of the size of the screen being used. So ask your web designer to make your site responsive. If you are using open source CMS like WordPress and Joomla, then it is better to purchase prebuilt website templates that are already responsive. This will save you hours of work.
1.4. Include a prominent call to action
A compelling call to action has the potential to be a conversion powerhouse. Hence, most successful companies use an optimized CTA on the home page (in the header or footer portion) to significant effect in increasing their user base.
You need to realize that the homepage is not just for aesthetic purposes. You can use it to guide the visitors to take actions like
Getting a lead from the user (in the form of registration or subscription)
Making a sale, either on a paid or trial basis (followed by payment on expiration)
Inviting the readers to share your brand on social media
1.5. An easy to follow navigation menu
Navigation bars are the signposts of your website. Therefore, the crucial factor is to keep the navigation simple to understand and maneuver. In a typical site, there are two navigation bars – on top and a footer at the bottom of the homepage.
It is wise to follow the three click rule regarding website navigation: users should always be able to find the information they are looking for within three clicks.
2. Necessary contents for a homepage
A website homepage has two sections, and you need to plan your content in a way that is suitable for the overall performance of the website.
Above the fold: The content that you can see without scrolling down. In other words, the first set of materials displayed to a visitor and hence the most important.
Below the fold: The content that you see when you scroll down.
Above the fold contents:
We are going to take the HubSpot homepage as an example to understand “above the fold” content.
Headline or Title: In a single line explain what you, your product or blog can provide to the user.
Subheading or Subtitle: Use it to reinforce your heading by adding some more points about your website and services.
Call to Action: A Call-To-Action provides directions and asks/tells your visitors to do something – to take the next step. Therefore, design a CTA with an offering that is hard to ignore.
Clear Navigation: Keep the navigation menu concise and straightforward.
Logo & Images/Videos: Place your company logo in the top section because adding an image or video explaining about your venture is a good practice. It is displayed on the first loading of the homepage. Hence, users tend to click on it immediately to know more about your services.
Below the fold contents:
Whether or not your visitors go to “below the fold contents” entirely depends on how impressed they were by seeing the “above the fold contents.”
If they do scroll down, then have the following materials in that portion:
Mention Benefits of your services or make it evident how you are different from others.
If there are other competing companies in your sector, then you can also add a comparative table of all the features to ascertain the users, why you are a better option.
Add trust indicators like customer/user testimonials or list of all the companies you are associated or worked with.
Remember that the natural tendency of people is to follow the crowd. Therefore, trust factor indicators are essential. For example, check out “below the fold” page for GetSiteCotrol. Here they have integrated some of the positive feedback to their service on Twitter.
Add footer information: It is the base of the site and appears on every page including the homepage. Hence, it should never be left blank. In the footer section, include these three pages – About us, Contact and Customer Testimonials.
For further reading on the importance of the static pages on a website, you may like to read the post on the elements of a great website.
3. What not do on a home page
After discussing the must-have content, it is also necessary to note a few points that should never be applied on a website homepage.
Never use random images from internet
Never take any random picture from the internet and place it on your homepage. There can be many complications to it including copyright violations. Online copyright issues can be tricky, and a legal background is necessary to properly work through these issues. In the DesignBold posts below, we’ve covered this in greater detail.
In the virtual world, it is brutally competitive to acquire more users. There have been cases where new startups have given false promises or tall claims that are hard to fulfill. Such tactics create negative word of mouth and bad publicity. Therefore, avoid this tendency.
Airbnb is the modern era’s travel platform where users can host tourists who want to visit your region. Airbnb is the “Uber” of the tourism sector, and the homepage helps communicate this grand vision.
The good points:
The big and accessible search box above the fold makes it easier to search listings.
Just below the fold, additional services other than lodging are provided to users. This provides Airbnb with additional sources of revenue.
Rovio is the studio behind the most popular game in the era of smartphones, Angry Birds. This company with modest origins rose to be one of the top mobile game and app enterprises in a few years. The homepage is perfectly designed to showcase all the latest games available for download.
The good points:
A big slider above the fold to showcase all the latest games and developments.
Optimized CTA button on every slide image, inviting users to download.
A vibrant combination of colors consistent with the featured game or application.
Conclusion and takeaways
In this post, we’ve discussed some of the key points that will help you make the perfect homepage for your blog or business. We’ve also shared some of our favorite sites already putting these ideas in action. In last few years, there have been rapid advancements in web design platforms, increased use of open source content management systems (WordPress and Joomla) and other technological developments. As a result, it is now much easier to create a professional homepage similar to the above examples.
The ultimate aim of a homepage is to educate your potential users and improve conversion rates. When perfecting your own homepage, keep in mind that DesignBold can make your life much easier. It will not only save you time and money but also help you create unique, higher quality images for your site.
We are simply a group of designing enthusiasts who want to inspire people to make their imagination come true. Our mission is to democratize design by making it accessible to everyone, regardless of their skill level or background