If you’ve ever built or even planned your own website, you’ll know just how much you can agonize over how your home page should look and what to include. You’ve most likely heard the much-quoted statistic that you only have 5 seconds to impress a new visitor. I can believe that. Count 5 seconds to yourself right now. It’s definitely long enough to scroll down and decide whether or not you want to take the relationship further. Would your homepage pass the 5 second test?
To capture your visitor’s attention within the 5 seconds you must first make your brand proposition crystal clear. Tell your visitors what you do and how you do it. Your work alone is not enough to seal the deal so your visitor needs to know what you stand for. Understand that you are not for everyone. It’s ok to repel some people. Challenge your visitors to raise their hand and ask them what they believe. Follow up with your offer and invite them in for more.
Once you have effectively established your brand proposition it’s time to craft your content. This can be as simple as a statement or a message that continues down your homepage. It’s important when creating your content to remember you are not the hero of the story. Your home page should not be all about “me me me” or “sell sell sell”. A successful home page should actually be all about the visitor. They are the real hero of this story. Your content should include outcomes and images that your ideal visitor can picture themselves in. The golden rule to keep in mind for home page content is no filler, all killer. Get to the point. Less is more.
The design phase of the website building process is exciting but you must create a visual plan first. At this point in the process, you should have a pretty good idea of how you want to tell your story. Take a moment to break out a pen and paper and draw a visual layout of your website. The space ‘above the fold’ on a website refers to the portion of the homepage that is visible when the site first comes up. Make this space count. You want your visitor to be enticed enough to keep scrolling. Any fonts or colors you plan to use on other pages needs to be included on your homepage.
The last part of polishing your home page is creating a call to action. This does not mean put a big contact me now button on the bottom of your page. Your visitor is just now getting to know you and rushing them to your contact page can cause potential customers to walk away. Instead, use a call to action that reinforces your message. Ask your visitor if they are ‘in’ or ‘out’. If they are ‘in’ then point them in the direction of more detailed information where you can close the deal.
Fisher Rinderknecht is the founder and creative director of Flight Reach Productions. He is also a member of the E-T’s community columnists. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.