For many visitors who come to your website your homepage is the first place they land. So it is your best chance to make a great impression, to be welcoming, helpful and inspiring.
No pressure, but you’re also trying to make them really like you in the first 3 seconds after they land. Because that’s how long it takes people to decide whether you are what they’re looking for, or whether they should click off somewhere else in the wonderland of overload we call the world wide web.
3 seconds! It’s not long! And as the face of your website your homepage has a key role to play in getting you the attention you deserve. So…
What should your homepage be doing for you?
It should act as a welcoming front door.
You know the feeling. You’re out for a walk on a lovely street, and you see a house, sweet, small, unprepossessing, but it has a stunning door (yellow, red, green…) with a sweet doormat and a beautiful pot plant beside it. The door is cracked slightly, as if someone is about to open it, and you try and come up with an excuse to linger longer, to still be right in front of it when it opens fully. You have to know what’s behind such a great door.
That is your homepage for your website.
People should see it, and they should want to linger longer. They should want to see who comes out of such a door, what kind of person lives here. They should want to come inside, and see what kind of home is behind such an awesome frontage, because surely someone with the taste and class to have such a great door would also have an fabulous house behind it.
Your homepage should be a visual cue to people that they want to see more.
It should act as a map.
You know those cute little neighbourhood maps that highlight the key things you won’t want to miss out on when you visit.
The cafe that serves the best coffee and bakery treats. The bookshop that will let you sit and read books for hours without expecting anything in return. The little boutique where you get the perfect gift for that hard to buy for friend. And it should be all set out in an easy to read and follow format. So you’ll be able to go from one to the other with minimum fuss.
This is the kind of map your homepage should be.
It should provide the perfect pointers for the exact questions your visitors want to know. And it should make it as easy as pie for them to find it.
Your homepage should highlight the top things people are coming to your site for. Things like:
- How to find out what products and services you provide.
- How to get in touch with you directly, or just to be able to stalk you on social media.
- They should be able to get some information for free from you that will give them insight into the type of person you are if they want to work with you in the future.
- And they should be able to get an idea of what other people that are already working with you think of you.
Speaking of which…
It should act as an introduction service.
The best introduction services don’t just set you up on dates with everyone on their list, and hope you hit it off with at least one person. They take what they know about each of you and match you up with only the most relevant options.
Your homepage should be the same.
It should attract and repel in equal measures. Not everyone who comes to your site will be someone you will want to work with. Think about that for a minute.
Chances are you didn’t get into business just so that you could replace the worst parts of your current job with the same things in your new job! You wanted something different. And it’s perfectly acceptable if part of that difference was the option to choose they type of people you spend your time with.
You don’t have to work for everyone who will give you money. You get to choose who you want to work with.
This is particularly relevant if you have a creative, coaching, consulting type business. Where the personalities and body of work of the people you choose to work with will affect your enjoyment of the work that you are undertaking.
It’s your business now, who do you want to work with?
Your homepage can help spread the message about this.
The colours, images, and language you use on your homepage will attract people to you. These may well be your ideal clients. You want to welcome them in, you want them to stick around a bit more, come inside that lovely front door to find out more about you and spend more time with you.
They will also repel some people. And that should be fine with you. You can’t work with every single person on the planet, no matter how big your business may become. So it makes sense to start weeding out the ones that you won’t enjoy working with right from the start.
This is why ideal customer avatars are so important. Both for helping you get clear on what your customers want and need from you. But also, because they help you understand the type of people you want to work with more, so you can set up your website to attract them to you.
PS: you might be asking do I need a homepage if I have a blog?
Ok, so it’s true, you don’t always need a traditional homepage. If you have a blog, and you you make it clear from your blog landing page what you’re all about then you might not need to also have a separate homepage.
If you don’t think you have enough information to warrant a separate homepage then maybe you don’t need it just yet. You can always keep this in mind as something to add later on, should find the need arises.
If you make sure the key things your homepage should be doing are represented well on your site without it, such as in your header and navigation, your sidebar and your footer, then you may well be fine without the extra effort of a homepage right now.
Not everyone comes in through the front door
Another thing to consider is, that not everyone will see your homepage. People will arrive at your site in lots of different ways, including directly to blog posts or your product pages.
So the information that you’ve got going on your homepage will also need to be supported and repeated throughout your site.
The next post will also help you with this, as we’ll cover the key things your homepage should include, and also how these should be represented further on your site.
Do you have a homepage currently? Taking a look at it, what do you think? Is it acting as a welcoming door, a map to the world of you, or a special introduction service?