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Best Practices Design

Web Design 101: What Should a Homepage Include?

By Andrew on November, 5 2020

“What should a homepage include?”

 

Perhaps there's no web design question we hear more often than that. That's why we’ve outlined all of the key elements you need to ensure your homepage’s design is effective, attractive, engaging, and most importantly, converts! Your home page is the first impression any potential customer has of your business and therefore it should be powerful.

Web design is an umbrella term for all of the technical, aesthetic, and creative elements that combine to make a fantastic website. Because web design is such an all-encompassing term (and often a sprawling undertaking), it can be hard to know where to begin. So we recommend starting where nearly all of your potential customers will start: your homepage. 

 

As your digital storefront and the frontline salesperson for your brand, arguably nothing has as much influence on your customers’ value journey than your homepage. It’s the first introduction most people will have to your brand, so making a great first impression is imperative.

1) Brand Promise

Distilling your brand ethos and mission into a single-sentence description that tells someone everything they need to know is crucial. It not only ensures clear messaging to your target audience, it’s also an important identifier for SEO since this brand promise will most often double as your H1/title tag. This is separate from your slogan, which can be more altruistic. 

 

Your top-selling product or services should be featured in your brand promise to allow both Google and your website visitors a clear and succinct understanding of what your brand offers. Because this doubles as your homepage title, it’s the headline for what you do and likely the first thing visitors will ever read about what you offer. Make it count!

Brand Promise-1

2) Clear Call-To-Action (CTA)

Call-To-Actions are critical components in pushing your visitors further along the customer value journey and closer to conversion. Your homepage should feature a number of CTAs, and we recommend including one in your header and/or at the very top of your homepage so that they’re visible upon site entry.

 

The mission of any website is to create engagement and drive conversions, and to do so, you need to offer a reason for visitors to take next steps. There are a vast number of CTA examples, but at its core, CTAs are elements of your site that demand an immediate response. 

 

This could be a “Learn More” button under a small services description that links to a more detailed page about that service. It could be a “Contact Us” prompt that encourages visitors to reach out or submit their details directly to learn more about how your business can help. Or a “Subscribe” button on your blog post content so readers can stay up to date on the content you’re producing.

Clear CTA

3) Core Services/Products

What are your top selling products or services? What products or services do you want to sell more of?

 

Your answers to both of these questions should be heavily featured on your homepage. Doing so not only underlines the definition of your business and what it offers, it also provides an up-front opportunity for visitors to see your products or services on display to read, engage, or potentially purchase. These elements help direct your visitors on their journey to learning about their problems and understand the value in your solutions.

 

As your digital sales rep your website needs to prominently feature what you’re actually offering as early as possible in the buyer’s journey. The last thing you want is visitors bouncing because they can't find what they are looking for.

Core ProductsServices

4) Answers Questions and Increase SEO

Answering customers’ questions is one of our foundational principles at Estes Media, and something that we feel is at the forefront of driving organic traffic and increasing conversions. That’s why it’s so deeply tied to our content methodology.

 

The idea is simple: offer genuinely helpful, informative content upfront and customers are more naturally inclined to trust your brand and engage with you. It’s tied into the importance of problem identification, but the difference here is that you’re providing solutions to customers' problems at the very outset, establishing immediate value.

 

Not only that, but by virtue of answering your customers questions, you’re also quite literally answering the search engine queries that have likely brought them to your site in the first place. This is something that Google recognizes and affords a lot of domain authority, meaning you’ll begin ranking higher on Google for the queries that have led customers there.


It’s a win on both fronts and you can find out more about the importance of this methodology here!

Answers Customers Questions-1

5) Trust Elements

Trust is an important aspect of any relationship, and it’s just as crucial for a website. If a visitor doesn't feel they can trust your site or business, why would they consider doing business with you? It is very important that your site helps build up their trust. 

 

Having an aesthetically pleasing design and helpful content is great and helps build trust that your business is successful and will continue to be, but to really establish your brand as trustworthy, you need to highlight your past experiences with customers, as well as your brand’s differentiating factors.

 

There are several ways to highlight positive customer experiences, including an implementation of product/service reviews and customer testimonials that provide catchy quotes. Another more comprehensive trust element in this category is the case study, which is a detailed overview of a completed project, including its goals, challenges, process, and results.

 

In addition, you should highlight any of your brand’s differentiating factors, such as awards, certifications, or other unique recognitions that show you’re a cut above the rest of your competitors.

Trust Elements-1

6) Engaging Imagery & Content

Avengers: Endgame co-director Joe Russo is noted for having a very simple mantra he applied to anything he's ever written, filmed, or edited: "No matter what you do, don't be boring!"

 

Your site should be designed in a way that makes a visitor want to read and easily understand what your business does. If a visitor judges your website by its cover, what will they think? Ensure the first impression they have based on your images and content is positive, so positive that it encourages them to stick around for a while and hear more about what your brand has to say.

 

Photos that are obviously from a stock archive or descriptions that read like a Wikipedia page are direct customer turnoffs. Your imagery should be attractive, unique, and compelling, not just filler pictures to break up the monotony of your copy.

 

Likewise, your content needs to be helpful, concise, and conversational, not just a collection of keywords or industry jargon. Write copy that answers your customers questions in an accessible way and in a natural tone.

Engaging ImageryContent

7) Clear User Journey

Using the elements we’ve laid out on this blog, organize your content so that their journey is clear. If you’re selling furniture, then attractive imagery and product descriptions will be important to feature higher on the homepage. If you’re offering therapeutic services, prioritizing trust elements or certifications will go further in convincing your visitors to convert.

 

The content of your homepage is your website’s make-or-break element, but without a thoughtful layout, you may not be leading your horse to water in the most efficient way possible.

 

Present your homepage content in a way that tells a clearly defined story about how a visitor should discover your brand, find their answers, and be offered a means to convert. They’ll be greeted by an image, a logo, and a title when they first land on your homepage. Then what? 

 

Think about your users, what they need to see, and where they need to go so that you can help guide them there as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Clear User Journey

8) Header

If your homepage is the introduction to your brand, the header is your handshake.

 

Headers used to be thin bars at the top of your homepage that usually had a small logo, a CTA, and maybe a contact number. Today they’re considered the entire frame that greets you upon landing, which is often a large picture or video, as well as a title/H1 tag, a slogan or H2 tag, and/or a CTA.

 

Like a first handshake, your header needs to be effective at conveying your brand personality. It should be thoughtful, attractive, and crisp without being too cluttered.

Header

9) Footer

The footer is a prime opportunity to offer additional navigational prompts so no visitor gets stuck or lost at the bottom of your page. You’ll want to include a logo and link to your primary products and services, as well as an additional CTA. 

 

Footers don’t have the same real estate or impressionability as your header, but their importance shouldn’t be discounted. It needs to prevent visitors from dead-ending, and appear as helpful and functional as the rest of your page.

Footer-1

10) Navigation

One of the biggest contributors to high bounce rates is cumbersome navigation. If your website isn’t easy to explore, visitors will rarely have the patience or time to figure out how to properly use it and find what they’re looking for.

 

This is a hugely important factor in ensuring your visitors enjoy a seamless buyer’s journey and are able to quickly and easily find what they need along the way. Make sure they spend as much time reading about your offerings and brand and less time trying to figure out your functionality and layout.

 

That can often be the difference between a lead and a sale.

Clear Navigation

11) SEO

Search Engine Optimization is a massive subject we could talk about for eons (and have!). 

 

But beyond the nuts and bolts of how SEO works and how you can set your business up for success in Google’s eyes (more on that here), SEO-friendliness needs to be baked into your website design to ensure Google is able to easily crawl, index, and rank your website.

 

If not, your domain may not be given the strength and authority it needs to organically rank higher on search engines, and an untold number of potential leads could be lost. Make sure you’re adhering to a modernized site map and structure so Google can have your back.

Local SEO NJ

This is the recipe for a guaranteed-good homepage. If you’re able to successfully and thoughtfully implement each of these elements into your homepage, then it’s practically designed itself! All that’s left is a coat of paint and turning the lights on.

 

Just as the homepage is an introduction to your brand, these elements are just the tip of the web design and development iceberg. To learn more about everything involved in a top-ranking website, check out more about what we do here.

 

And if you’re interested in learning more about SEO and content writing, take a deep dive with us on our other blog posts.

 

Ready to get your website off the ground? Let’s get started together.

Best Practices Design
Andrew
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