As a Melbourne digital marketing agency, web design services are a major component of our business. From website redesigns to content management to optimisation, we’ve had clients come to us with all sorts of websites to work on. We’ve definitely seen and designed enough sites to have a fair idea of what works and what doesn’t.
So we thought we’d share some of our favorite web design best practices on the blog! This time, we’ll be focusing on what makes a great website homepage.
Make it Clear What Your Website is About
One of the first things we look for on our clients’ existing websites is a sentence that clearly states what their site or business is about. The fact is, most people are lazy and time-poor: if they click into a site and can’t figure out what’s going on, they’re more than likely going to bounce (i.e. click off of the page) and land right in the arms of another similar site that’s made it easy for them to find the information they were looking for. For small businesses, this is the absolute worst thing that could happen because these visitors could have turned into clients but instead they fled to a competitor.
Also, make sure you put this sentence “above the fold” so that visitors don’t have to scroll down the homepage to find what they’re looking for. Scrolling takes effort, and as we mentioned above: visitors will bounce from a site if it takes them too long to find what they need.
Avoid Putting Massive Banners or Sliders at the Top
On that note, how many sites have you seen greeting you with a big banner or sliding images at the top of their homepage? They usually do more harm than good if they lack any context or take up too much space. Again, don’t make your site visitors work harder than necessary! They shouldn’t have to scroll down to the bottom of the homepage to learn what your site or business is about.
If you’re still intent on having that banner image though, it’s best to keep its height to a minimum so that some of the content below it is visible above the fold. Also consider adding some text overlay to the banner - bonus points if it clearly states what your website is about (see the point above).
Have a Simple, Well-Structured Menu
Having solid navigation on your site does wonders for its usability. Spend some time thinking about how you want your site to be structured: that is, what content you want to include and how you want it organized. Make sure this is reflected in the way you set up your menu or navigation bar, and that you’ve made it easy for visitors to find various information on your site.
Ensure You Have Enough (Interesting) Content
We’ve seen a lot of wasted homepages in our day. What we mean by that is, homepages that lack any useful content. In these instances it’s common to see the homepage used as a launching-off point to the site’s subpages, without including much in the way of copy.
This is a no-no for two big reasons:
1. A homepage without much copy is detrimental to your site’s SEO. First, because if there isn’t enough text or content to optimise, it’s more difficult to get your site to rank on Google. Second, because Google tends to consider pages with sparse content as less authoritative - which makes sense, because how can a webpage be an authority on a certain topic when there’s hardly any words written about said topic?
2. The homepage is what most visitors will see first when they find your site. If you haven’t captured their interest with some useful content, they will probably leave. Use the homepage as an opportunity to sell your site or business.
Include Calls To Action
Lastly, ensure you prompt your visitors to take action after perusing your site. Whether you have a call-out section commanding them to contact you or subscribe to your mailing list, or are featuring a particular product or discount (if the site is for your business), make sure there’s something on the homepage that tells visitors what to do next.