Friday, August 1, 2014

6 Ways to Create an Engaging Homepage

You want visitors to see your site and smile.

These days, just having a website won’t cut it. You need a sticky website—one that engages visitors, persuading them to stay on your site and explore your brand further. That simply won’t happen without a killer homepage. Think about it: Your homepage is where visitors decide if you’re worth their time—and you’ve got about six seconds to make your case. There’s simply not a second to lose, so if you want to convert more visitors to customers, remember these vital tips:

1. Prioritize your visitor’s experience and offer multiple engagement paths.
Ask yourself how you want visitors to interact with your content. What do you want them to click on, and when? Provide a clear entry point (termed a “Call to action” or “CTA”) to the path you most want them to take, but keep in mind that not all prospects are ready to make a purchase. Give them options to engage further by providing links to articles, company information, FAQs, product descriptions, etc. However, be careful not to include too many user engagement paths, which can feel overwhelming and increase bounce rates. Your page architecture should direct visitors in a natural flow that makes sense for your industry, brand, and audience.

2. Keep your content simple and well organized.
Customers need to know what you sell and to whom you sell it within seconds of viewing your homepage. Your headline and subheads should be strong but concise, written and placed to grab attention in a few short words. CTAs should stand out against the background and be easy to find. Keep your design clean and uncluttered, and avoid distractions like pop-ups and auto-play videos. Finally, place limited-time offers and special discounts near the top of your site to grab attention.

3. Offer social proof upfront.

Historically, effective types of social proof have included client comments, testimonials and case studies. While these can be lengthy, you can offer a short teaser on your homepage that links to the elaborated version. Today, companies often look to enhance social proof through social media and sharing. If that’s the case for your brand, consider listing on your homepage the number of Twitter followers and Facebook likes you have, and make sure to prominently display links to all your social media accounts.

4. Invest in responsive technology.

Your site must be attractive, easy to navigate, and quick to load regardless of how visitors are accessing your site. Responsive design—which automatically resizes a site’s layout to preserve text and images based on a user’s specific browser and/or device—provides an optimal viewing experience on everything from laptops to smart phones to tablets. E-commerce sales from mobile devices climb significantly every year, so don’t lose money because your site isn’t responsive.Note that most popular DIY website builders do not include responsive design, so when searching for a new site builder, be sure to find one that does.

5. Add credibility with strategic design.
Customers will judge the quality of your brand by the attractiveness of your homepage. Period. Your logo, copywriting, design, photos, and CTAs should work together and speak right to your target audience, selectively, concisely, and compellingly. The more personalized and coordinated your homepage is, the more persuasive you’ll be to the right visitors. Choose a neat, uncluttered layout that employs complementary fonts, photos and colors, keeping in mind what your target audience appreciates and what will resonate with them.

6. Finally: test, test, and retest.
Even if you’re currently happy with the performance of your homepage, it’s important to periodically update and refresh its content. Use Google Analytics to test different versions of headlines, photos, CTAs, and special offers to see which best reduce bounce rates and increase conversions. Not everyone responds to images and copy similarly, and relying on data is the only way to discover the best combination for your specific brand. There’s always room for improvement!

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