When writing or updating a website one of the biggest challenges is the home page. It can be very difficult to determine what content should be given the prominence of the home page. If you’re not careful, your home page ends up a dumping ground that will confuse your audience and drive them away instead of pulling them in.

Key Home Page Considerations 

1. Your goals for the site and your home page. 

Think through goals clearly before you start drafting content or design. What information do you want to make sure your audience leaves with when they visit your site? That should be the guiding factor in the design and content development process. If you don’t communicate clearly – again with both design and content – your audience will never get past the home page.

2. Clear communication and call to action.

We’re talking “elevator pitch” clear. You have a very short time to grab the attention of your audience – less than a minute according to most studies. You need to clearly, concisely and directly tell people what you do and why they want to learn more. And you need to give them an obvious next step and a reason to take that next step.

3. Home page design

This is one page above all others where design and content must work hand in hand to accomplish your goals. Navigation off the home page is critical. Some users will never even read that carefully crafted content mentioned above and will instantly start scanning your menu. You should consider both types of readers as you design your content flow and navigation. The goal is to get people where they want to go within one click. Again, simple and clear (are you sensing a theme here?).

4. Audience experience

Finally, keep your audience in mind. You may love home pages that have lots of columns or very short bits of content but does your target audience? You should know enough about your market to know their comfort of Internet use and technology. You should know what your audience wants to get from you and how they want to get it. Let that help guide you as you craft home page design and content that effectively reaches out to them.

Keep the audience at the forefront. Develop clear channels of communication. Make sure efforts match your goals. All important tips for creating effective, powerful home page content.

When you design your home page DO NOT

Before we leave, let’s run through a list of what NOT to do.
  1. Create a text-heavy home page.
  2. Let design overwhelm the content.
  3. Provide a “cute” but dysfunctional navigation.
  4. Give too many options. Yes, calls to action are important but if you have too many – where is the user going to click? (Answer: away from your website.)
  5. Assume once is enough. There’s a common marketing mantra that you should touch your prospects three times if you want them to remember you. You may not need three repetitions on the home page but if something is important, your audience should be able to get to it in more than one way.
Think you’re ready to start planning out your home page? Here’s a fun set of exercises to help you get started.