The True Purpose of a Website Home Page
August 06, 2012 at 9:00 AM
The homepage is the most important page on a website, but it’s also the most misunderstood. “What do I say on my website homepage?” After designing over 1000 websites for small New Zealand businesses, it’s a question we’ve heard often.
Here’s the thing – most people think that a website homepage is there to achieve the #1 goal of the website, which is to either sell a product or generate an enquiry. This is kind of like going to up to a girl at a bar and asking for her phone number without having a conversation first!
In reality, a homepage has two objectives:
a) Start a conversation with the visitor
This is done by having engaging them with a captivating headline, sub headline, and body copy that answers the three key questions the visitor has when they arrive at your website:
1) Where am I?
2) What can I do here?
3) Why should I do it?
Really put yourself in your target customer’s shoes here. What are the main questions they need clarified before they move deeper into your website? To reframe the three questions above, you need to tell them :
1) You understand the main reason they’re at your website – the main problem that they’re facing (in your headline and sub headline)
2) Clearly communicate the aspects to your products and service that solve the problems they have (in body copy)
3) Why they should deal with your company versus your competitors (in the body copy)
b) Direct the visitor
The second objective of your website homepage is to direct the visitor to the area of the website that has the answers to the questions they need. This can be challenging, because often, there’s more than just one thing you’re trying to achieve when people go to your website. You have numerous products and services to showcase, actions you want them to take, important company news and updates you need to communicate, you want them to follow you on social media, you want them to get in touch, or buy that product, or register for that event….AAARGH!!!
The key point here – prioritise your business objectives, and make your website’s home page reflect these objectives. The best way to do this is to have a service directory on your website home page. A service directory is 3 or 4 boxes that identify the key places a visitor can go to get the information they need, so they will take the actions you want them to take.
Let’s use a simple example. Let’s say you’re a building company, and you have three services you provide - New Home Builds, Renovations & Commercial Builds. Most of your business comes from Commercial Builds, so you put that box first, then New Home builds, then Renovations as people read left to right. You also put a brief keyword rich description of each service with a corresponding image or icon so the visitor is reassured they’re being directed to the right place. This is how the homepage directs traffic.
So remember, the goal of a website homepage is not to generate enquiries or sales, it’s to start an engaging conversation with the visitor by answering the three key questions they have – where am I, what can I do here, and why should I do it. Then directing them to the area of your website that allows them to get the info they need before they get in touch. Hopefully this sheds some light on how to make the most important page of your website do the job it’s supposed to do.
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