For many businesses, their website serves as the first point of contact for potential customers. Unfortunately, we consistently see many businesses forget this fact and instead design websites that are confusing, uninformative and ultimately useless.
While there are many things your website can include, there are 12 critical elements that every website’s homepage MUST include to ensure the best user experience. In this article, we’ll explore these 12 elements and explain why they’re so crucial to your homepage design and the success of your website.
The headline should sit at the top or middle of the homepage and instantly tell visitors what your business does. A headline should be concise (never any longer than one sentence), free of jargon, and serve as an effective snapshot of your business. You can see our headline from the Retain Media website below.
The sub-headline supplements the headline and is your opportunity to expand on your business offering. The aim is to provide visitors with additional information about your business without them needing to dig further into your website.
The sub-headline usually sits directly underneath the headline, although it does not always need to do so. You can see below that our sub-headline sits below our headline in a separate section.
Primary Calls to Action
Your website’s homepage has to serve many different purposes, and one of them is to urge visitors to click through, whether by making a purchase, booking an appointment, or submitting an enquiry. A call to action is something that prompts a user to take the desired action, like a ‘Shop Now’ or ‘Contact Us’ button.
Your primary calls to action should have a prominent position on your homepage and be visually striking (ideally with a contrasting colour) in order to catch the eye. A call to action should be no more than a few words and should give the visitor a clear idea of what will happen when they click through.
On the homepage of our Retain Media website, we have two primary calls to action, one which says ‘Get Started’ and another, more subtle one that says ‘Send an Enquiry’, as you can see below.
Gone are the days of websites being walls of plain text. Photo and video reign supreme in the digital landscape, and any website homepage that lacks one or the other will not connect with an audience.
Your supporting image should be large and high-quality, and sit below or underneath your headline. Additionally, it needs to clarify what your business does: if you’re selling bed sheets or jewellery, your supporting image should be a featured product.
As a digital marketing agency, our homepage features a supporting video that shows clips of our client’s industries – caravans, motorbikes, farm equipment etc – allowing visitors to deduce that we work with clients in these industries.
Whether you sell a product or a service, your homepage acts as a virtual shopfront and will often be the first point of contact for potential customers or clients, so it needs to communicate how what you are offering will benefit them.
For Retain Media, the primary benefit we offer is rolled into our sub-headline –‘Turn Prospects Into Leads’ and expanded on it just below: ‘We identify, nurture and motivate your best prospects to become leads and sales’. This is clear and concise and lets our visitors decide whether we suit what they are looking for.
Humans are social creatures and social proof is one of the main ways in which we decide whether a person or a business can be trusted – in fact, that’s the entire purpose of reviews. Featuring reviews, testimonials and case studies on your homepage is one of the best ways to offer social proof to visitors. This should be done so next to their name or company logo to reinforce its strength.
Positive social proof assures visitors and prospects of your legitimacy and helps them decide whether your business is the right fit for them. Users need to feel as though they can trust your business and your website needs to communicate this. In our case, the fact that our featured reviews are predominantly from caravan manufacturers might convince one prospect to reach out to us, while also informing another (a beauty brand, for example) that we are not the right fit for them.
All of the elements mentioned above focus on offering value to website visitors by directly promoting your business, but having a usable site is just as important for enhancing the user experience.
If you want to convert prospects and help visitors move through your site, you need an effective navigation system to direct them. The ‘hamburger menu’ has been a popular design choice over the past 10 years due to the limited screen space available to mobile users, although there are many other options, as the image from Conflux shows below.
However you decide to design your navigation, the most important thing is that it is intuitive and easy-to-use, with a clear hierarchy and separation of areas so that visitors can find what they need.
Instead of using a hamburger or some other type of collapsible menu, we opted for a simple navigation bar at the top of our homepage that allows visitors to sort through our service offerings and find the one that is most relevant to them.
A content offer is a form of lead generation that gives site visitors something for free in order to keep them engaged. Content offers vary depending on the business, but are usually things like guides, eBooks, white papers, or newsletters.
Offers that require visitors to provide their details (such as a newsletter) are also a great way of gathering data that can inform who your target market is and help you develop customer personas. We use a newsletter for our content offer, as it allows prospects to get an idea of our insights and expertise without needing to do anything more than type in their email.
Secondary Calls to Action
Secondary calls to action sit ‘below the fold’ (i.e. the break where you scroll from one section of the homepage to the next) and give visitors another opportunity to engage, even if they’ve ignored your primary calls to action.
Your secondary calls to action might be the same as your primary calls to action, or they could be completely different. A common secondary CTA in e-commerce is to offer a discount to entice any customers that are on the fence. You can see an example of this below from the Australian brand Bed Threads.
Features go hand-in-hand with benefits and are how you further clarify your service to any site visitors. Many businesses will substitute their service offerings for their features, which is fine, although it is ultimately unhelpful.
By this point, most visitors will already know what your service is – now they want to know what that looks like. You can see below how we have broken our services down into a series of steps so that visitors know what a service – whether its SEO, Google Ads or social media – actually involves.
Similarly to the content offer, resources give your website visitors a little taste of your service for free and help establish your authority in your field. The resources you offer will depend on your business: for some, they might be news or interviews, while for others it could be articles or research.
How you choose to link to your resources is up to you. You can have a prominent button that takes visitors to a separate landing page, or just have a link nested in the header or footer, as we have done.
Success indicators serve much the same purpose as social proof, but give you more of an opportunity to show off. Common success indicators include awards, recommendations and high-profile clients, all of which tell a site visitor, ‘Look how awesome we are!’. Below are two examples of this from our own website.
You Only Get One Chance To Make A First Impression
In the digital space, you only get one chance to impress a site visitor before you lose them – potentially forever. If your website homepage is lacking in form, function or features, you will fail to make a positive impression on visitors and will struggle to generate leads as a result.
Your homepage should be a jack of all trades that tells people what you do, how you do it, and how it benefits them before they are funnelled off to other pages. A homepage isn’t there just to look pretty, it needs to serve a purpose and should be working towards that at every stage.
If You're Struggling To Generate Leads, We Can Help
For more tips on digital best practices and information regarding Google Ads, SEO, Facebook and more, head to our Insights page and read some of our latest articles. But if your homepage is not quite what it should be and you’re struggling to generate leads, it might be time to talk to the experts.
As specialists in lead generation, we take a comprehensive approach to your digital presence and develop unique strategies that will help you generate more leads and grow your business. For more information, get in touch with a member of our team today for a no-obligation consultation.