I’m sure you’ve heard this line before: “Your website is your new storefront”. Well, if that’s the case (and I can assure you it is), what does that make your homepage, the first impression of what you do, offer and who you are?
Your home page can really make or break you in terms of site visitation, and it does not have to suck. Here are 5 ways you can avoid such a distinction.
Don’t let the large amount of visually displeasing websites on the web fool you, the design of your homepage is your FIRST impression to the web-world. A website with artistic homepage design has the ability to captivate an audience while at the same time telling your story all in one take.
So what makes a good design? Good, thoughtful design does not mean, in any way, that your website should be filled with glittery, moving objects and layers upon layers of graphics. Nope. Good design on a homepage is all about imagery, spacing and color choices. The most stunning homepages on the web have strong imagery, use the space well and exhibit color that draws attention to the desired aspects of the page.
Some of the most captivating sites on the web are minimal designs; typography over color. Simple.
I can tell you firsthand that if I land on a page and it looks outdated, cluttered or lacks any sort of flair, there is only one thing that can keep me on that page…which brings me to the next reason.
A good question is, how easy is it for a site visitor to navigate your site? A better question is, how are you using your navigation to drive visitors to your site where you want them to go? If you don’t have an answer to either of these questions, your homepage sucks. Let me simplify. What is a navigation? Is the navigation the little narrow bar at the top of your site with links to pages? Sure, in its most basic form, that is a navigation. But there are more ways to get around a site.
Updateable Compelling Content: Will they see the same thing every time?
Most people assume that the home page is the one place for static content—the once place where everything should be the same all the time. Well, that belief is part of the reason those people have suck-tastic home pages.
Updateable content on the home page is important for a number of reasons. If I come to your site, I don’t want to see the same thing every time. More importantly, crawlers for search engines don’t want to see the same thing either. This can be fixed quite easily. You can add a section that feeds and displays your most recent updates or a twitter feed showing your tweets. There are a myriad of ways to accomplish this, but know it needs to be accomplished if you wish to bring your home page out of sucky-town.
You’d think it a pretty simple thing, but typography plays an important role in how a user digests the content of a website. It’s important for any web design’s typography to be easy to read and follow while establishing structure and hierarchy within the content. No more is this effective and extremely important than on the homepage.
The use of titles, subtitles and subtle font changes establish the content that is important and draw eyes to the content you want ready first in priority. Get your typography correct and your message is read the way you want it read…and can be quite beautiful as well.
Does your home page look different on a Firefox and Safari browser as it does in (cringe) Internet Explorer? It’s crucial that it looks equally amazing in all browsers. Any good web designer knows that what may work in one browser may be completely broken in another.
Let’s not forget about browsers in different platforms, i.e. iPad/iPhone/Droid. The former two use a mobile version of Apple’s Safari browser, and we’ve seen sites that look fine in Safari on a Mac, yet when opened on the iPad, components are skewed, sizes are off, or the layout isn’t perfect anymore.
I bet you never thought so much went into the design of your home page. Being that your home page is your only shot at a “first impression”, that impression has got to be great. If you have all the right elements in place, you can be sure to capture their attention and turn your website visitors into dollars.