Creating The Home Page
Although you may see visitors come to your website in a variety of ways, the home page is typically the first thing users will see. As the face of your website, and often the face of your organization, it is critical that your home page provides a positive, professional and engaging first impression. In fact, there are several clichés often associated with the home page: it’s the front door to your virtual presence, the electronic equivalent of a book cover, and your first and only chance to make a first impression.
While we know there is more to a website than the home page, because of the importance it plays, designers pay significantly more attention to the content, the speed and the visual appeal of a home page.
When creating your home page, it’s good to keep in mind that people will be accessing your website using a variety of methods. Reports suggest we have hit the tipping point where most website traffic comes from mobile devices and tablets. Of course, that may be different depending on the industry that you are in, but what this means is that you can’t exclude creating a home page that looks good on any device.
In previous chapters, discussed calls to action and guiding the user through their journey. Nowhere else is implementing this more important than the website home page. When creating your home page, you’ll want to review closely your user journey and calls to action in order to place elements that help reinforce these steps. Additionally, the visitor will want to know about the site their visiting, what they can do, how to easily navigate and will want to be presented with useful information.
Your logo, a captivating image, and an appealing aesthetic will be important to grab and retain the attention of your visitors. In addition, a fast load speed is important to make sure users don’t bounce or abandon your website. Bounce rates are typically characterized by visitors coming to your website and leaving before 30 seconds and without any further interaction. Although there may be situations that this is an acceptable outcome, in most situations a lower bounce rate is typically preferable to a higher bounce rate. It indicates that a user is engaging with your content. If your website takes a long time to load; and this can be depended on how much your page tries to load or the speed/volume of traffic of your web host. Many experts typically suggest a load time of under 3 seconds to avoid having large numbers of visitors leave your site before they can have meaningful interaction with it.
Some Options to Include on Your Home Page
- Calls to action to any of your internal pages
- A large header image to grab attention
- Your contact information to make it easy to get in touch with you
- A newsletter signup form for people to keep hearing from you
- Your image to help build trust with the person visiting your website
- Testimonials from happy clients or customers
- Logos of media companies where you’ve gotten press
- Recent updates or blog posts
How Can You Keep Your Website Under 3 seconds load time?
- Limit the number of scripts and images that are loading from an outside source to a fairly small number (ie Google analytics, Facebook pixels, YouTube videos, Instagram feeds, etc)
- Resize your images in an external photo editing software to the size you want them displayed before adding them to your website
- Use only the number of pictures that you absolutely need - more pictures equal more calls to the server, making the website slower