Designing a great homepage

Designing a great homepage

Homepage design

Getting your homepage design just right

Getting your homepage design just right is a major task. Ask three people about their first online impression of you and you’ll probably get four – or more – answers.

It’s particularly hard when your website needs to appeal to customers, employees and suppliers and you’ve got no more than a few seconds to make a great first impression.

You have to juggle design, photography and words – what takes precedence and why?

Your homepage is not there for you…

The most important thing to remember is that your homepage isn’t there for you. Unless you are selling to yourself, you’re not the target audience. Make sure that when you’ve created your homepage, you ask some trusted friends for their opinion. And listen to what they say. Specifically ask them if they understand what you sell or do from the first 3 – 5 seconds of seeing your homepage.

Banners or not? Icons instead of text? Lots and lots of text telling your whole story? Minimal colour or a single, bold image?

Should you include a random selection of products that you sell? Will it help or confuse visitors?

What about navigation? Should you hide it behind a fashionable three bar “Hamburger” navigation icon to make your design clean and fresh or leave the traditional tabs in place?

The choices you make affect the visitor journey

The choices you make with homepage design will influence how long a potential customer spends on your site before they turn to your competitor instead. And, of course – no matter how interesting your story actually is – few people will read every word on your home page before clicking through, searching, or switching off.

Great design, eye-catching relevant and meaningful images that aren’t obviously from a stock library and engaging text will firstly welcome your visitor and then direct them to the best page for their next step. Since your homepage will probably get more clicks than your other pages, it’s important to get it right first before you move on to products and services pages. Your homepage might not be the one that converts visitors to customers, but it does tell them a lot about your brand and what you sell.

Keep it simple stupid… 🙂

In general, keep your design and your message simple and if your brand isn’t clear on the homepage, you’ll lose out.

We have a great, in-depth homepage design blog that will help answer some of your issues and, of course, contact us directly for a more personal response.

Website Tab Navigation Isn’t Enough

Website Tab Navigation Isn’t Enough

 

Website Tab Navigation Isn't EnoughWhy website tab navigation isn’t enough…

Did you know that the visitors to your site can be broken down into 3 types of navigator?

When designing a website and especially a homepage you need to take into account the 3 different preferences people have when browsing online.

Website designers and therefore website designs tend to consider visitors as one amorphous lump of online prospects, but in reality they respond very differently to the way your site is designed.

 

3 Main Browsing Types of Visitors

 

Site Searchers

Site searchers tend to be people who know what they want . They’ll type in the name of the product or service they’re looking for in your search box.

Because they already know the name of the product or service they’re looking for, you’re going have problems if you’ve decided to give your products or services a unique name to be ‘different’.  The reality is your products won’t be found. Not only that you’ll have just lost a visitor and the ‘bounce’ could affect your relevancy score for future search result rankings.

So be conventional. Call your products and services by the name everyone knows them as.

Tip: make sure the site search system you’re using is a good quality one – they’re not all the same. Some out of the box site search offerings are poor, either in terms of actually finding the products being searched for or displaying them in an easy to understand and engaging format.

 

Tab Navigators

Most web designs are built around the assumption that every visitor is a tab navigator.  It’s true that tab navigation on your website is very important.  It gives visitors an instant understanding about what your website is about and the breadth of products or services your company offers – all without having to click a button.

Mega drop down menus (those menus that show more options when you hover a mouse pointer over them) are another great invention that allows visitors to see more of your content.  They can then decide whether to invest their time to progress further into your site without having to invest a mouse click.

On the subject of mouse clicks you should consider each click a visitor has to make as a considered investment by them. They’re weighing up time spent towards the likelihood of finding the thing they’re looking for against a waste of time which they could have spent better elsewhere.

So make the words you use to describe each navigational element (tab heading) meaningful and logical – don’t make the visitor think about what products or services are hidden behind each heading or they’re likely to leave.

Tip: don’t hide website tab navigation behind the three bar hamburger menu icons on desktop or tablet – it’s ok on smartphone form factors (but even some pioneering designs are shunning it here too).

 

Content Navigators

Content navigators on the other hand are, as the name implies, content junkies.  These visitors prefer to interact with the content of a page rather than the dedicated navigational elements like the navigation tabs or site search box.

Unfortunately most homepages don’t have a structure which even closely resembles the layout of the various categories of products or services on offer by the site.  It’s usually just a massive promotional image with a random collection of ‘products in focus’, often driven by the demands of the various product managers within the business.

So what?  It’s not that important is it?

You may be surprised to learn than on average more than 50% of your visitors to your homepage will want use the content to navigate rather than either site search or tab navigation.

It’s not surprising really when you consider that only around 30% of your total page visits will be to the homepage – the vast majority will be interacting with your product and category pages and… you guessed it they’ll be predominantly interacting with the content on those pages and not the tab navigation.

Unless you’re a household name spending £100,000’s a month on advertising your visitors will not know the range of products or services your sell, and they won’t spend long looking through every navigation tab to get a feeling for what you sell either.

Tip: make sure the content on your homepage represents the information architecture and tab navigation structure of your site.  On a recent client project we saw an increase in content navigation to 60% of total homepage interaction. This lead to over 50% higher clicks to deeper content – all by redesigning the homepage to reflect the site structure. Find out more about homepage design

 

Let’s Work Together

To find out more about how we’ve helped other businesses improve their online and offline performance get in touch using the contact form, via email at [email protected] or calling us on +44 1462 887334

Top Checkout Process Improvements

Top Checkout Process Improvements

Optimising your checkout process

online shopping photo

Photo by FootMassagez

If there’s just one area on your site that you focus on it should be your checkout process.

A small change here can have a big impact on your bottom line.

Focusing on optimising the shopping cart and checkout process is one of the quickest ways to increase revenues for your business.

What if I don’t have a checkout process?

Even if your website doesn’t sell things, improving the ease with which customers can input data on your site to enquire, apply for services or sign up to newsletters is an essential and fundamental area to improve your key performance indicators (KPIs).

Classic mistakes…

Having worked with many businesses over the years we’ve seen a wide range of mistakes that can seriously affect the performance of both your shopping cart widget* and the checkout process itself.

*What’s a widget? – it’s the interactive element that both adds an item to the shopping basket when you click “Buy Now” and usually it sits as an icon in the fixed element at the top of the web page.

For shopping cart widgets these issues range from bad widget design and placement, to poor or non-existent basket update advice as well as the loss of shopping cart items when users click the back button in the browser.

Checkout processes are generally more complex and varied but also have the opportunity for more, far ranging issues. These can include:-

  • not recognising returning visitors when they come back to your site but before they login
  • not remembering previously abandoned shopping cart contents
  • bad login/register/guest checkout page design
  • poor or unclear input box text labels
  • not making it clear which input fields are mandatory
  • input box sizing that doesn’t correspond to the required input data (e.g. full screen width boxes for a telephone number)
  • poor or overzealous field validation and inefficient error messaging (a major issue)
  • bad page design where buttons are hidden below the bottom of the screen (desktop, tablet and mobile)
  • not using the browser pre-fill function

To find out more, please leave us a message

For more website design tips have a look at Top Homepage Design Tips or Top 5 Website Optimisation Tips

Website Redesign: Choosing a Web Design Agency – 5 top tips

Website Redesign: Choosing a Web Design Agency – 5 top tips

So you need to redesign your website, but who’s going to do it?

Choosing the right web design agency can be a daunting task.  It’s an expensive investment, and getting it right is important.

You’re about to trust a company you might not know with a significant amount of your hard earned cash hoping that they’ll redesign your website into a slick, efficient sales engine that customers love… Oh, and you also want it to drive fantastic sales growth too.

The trouble is, who do you choose and can you trust them?… (more…)

Top Homepage Design Tips

Top Homepage Design Tips

In this article we’re going to talk about one of the most difficult pages to design on your website – the Homepage.  Our homepage design tips will not only help you understand why getting homepage design right is important, they’ll also help you to generate more traffic to sales content and goal conversion.  (more…)

Top 5 Website Optimisation Tips

Top 5 Website Optimisation Tips

Gone are the days when just having a basic business website was enough to tick the box on the marketing to-do checklist. Visitors and customers are increasingly expecting greater things from their online experience; they want to find content and resources that help them make choices, they want to buy or amend things 24/7 and be able to manage their relationship with you when it suits them (not you). By optimising your website around the customer you can drastically improve how visitors interact and drive up revenue or cost savings.  Read on for our top 5 website optimisation tips…. (more…)

Conversion Rate Optimisation

Conversion Rate Optimisation

What is Conversion Rate Optimisation?

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO)  is a term used to describe the continual improvement of your website, and aims to drive more visitors into buying customers or to whatever your business goals are. Ok, so what’s “Sales Optimisation”?

The term ‘sales optimisation’ is often used in the same way as ‘conversion rate optimisation’ (‘CRO’), or ‘sales conversion rate optimisation’.  Essentially they’re all the same thing.  What they’re not is Search Engine Optimisation or SEO – but more about that later…

Although we talk about ‘Sales’ optimisation, in essence we’re including all forms of user experience improvements that allow your visitors to achieve their goals as well as yours. (more…)