The most important page on your website is your home page. Not because its the first page people see. It’s also not because its the first chance you have to get them to make a purchase, complete a form, or sign up for something. Those things are important but they are not the purpose of your home page. The primary purpose of your home page is to act as a traffic cop getting them off of it as soon as possible and into the right conversion path for them.
That’s not to say we’re not happy if they do purchase, become a lead or sign up from the home page. We’d like that a lot. Sort of like winning the game in the first quarter or inning. We understand, though, that most people visiting our site for the first time are in the early stages of the buyers cycle. They are looking for information to help them define or understand an issue or opportunity.
The visitor has taken the first step which has landed them on our home page. The home page needs to guide them to the next step. MECLABS, a leading researcher on factors that influence choice, came up with three questions that your site must answer for visitors. The fourth we’ve added but there’s a likelihood that we saw it in some of their research as well.
Four Question Your Home Page Must Answer For Visitors
- Where am I?
If the visitor doesn’t get that the site they are on can help them or address their questions they are likely to move on to the next site. Your logo and tag line, the copy on the home page, and even how the design comes across can have an impact. If your site looks old or outdated your visitor is going to subconsciously wonder if your company it old or outdated.
- What can I do here?
The next step is to inform the visitor what they can do. Can they find more information on products and services, is there thought leadership content such as blogs and videos to read or watch, are there any tools that can assist them, and can sign up, download, purchase, etc?
- Why should I do it?
With the third question we move into the realm of credibility. Credibility can be conveyed (through copy or maybe logos of partners that allow you to tap into the partner’s credibility), implied (through trust icons or associations) and shared (think testimonials). All of these items work together to give you visitor a reason to take the next step.The copy you write and your calls-to-action are equally important. Are they clear, concise and compelling?
- How do I do it?
This last questions addresses how clearly you show them how to take the next step. Do you have intriguing calls to action, do your buttons and text links stand out, can they pick up the phone to call you, etc.
As Flint McGlaughlin, the Founder of MECLABS is often heard to implore, “Clarity trumps persuasion“.
The second part of an optimized home page is having clear objectives on each page. Once again MECLABS has laid out a clear path with three types of objectives on each page of your site.
The Three Types of Web Page Objectives
- The Primary Objective: If someone can only take one action, what you want them to do. There can only be one and each page of your site should have one primary objective.
- Major Objectives: Important but not primary. Used to direct visitors off of home page into conversion paths.
- Minor Objectives: These objectives do not relate directly to revenue or conversions. Minor objectives are not limited to the bottom of your page.
You can assign importance to elements on any page of your site through placement or positioning of the element, size, color, images, icons, and other elements that highlight content.
Diagram of an Optimized Home Page
When we work on a website redesign its not uncommon to encounter a site that doesn’t address the four questions, and that doesn’t have clear page objectives. The following infographic is based on the information above. The page layout is a little compressed due to including side notes, so in your final design you would want to include more white space. Also, we’re talking optimization from a messaging and layout perspective. You still need to optimize your pages for SEO.
The above concepts can be incorporated into your existing site or handled during a website redesign. If you site content answers the four visitor questions, and prioritizes you page objectives, you are well on your way to moving site visitors into the correct conversion path.
If you want to improve your website design to drive more leads and sales we can help. Call us at 678-951-9506 or contact us. Also be sure to download your free copy of the “10 Step Checklist For Your Next Website Redesign” below.