A homepage is the main epicentre of your brand and products. A website with no homepage is like a storefront with no name, door, greeting, offers, etc.
A homepage is the virtual storefront of your site and the most crucial page. Think of it like a storefront with your name at the top, a “brief” introduction about who you are and what you do or sell. In addition, your homepage must serve the customers you’re trying to attract.
Without a homepage, you’ve less chance of your brand being recognised; you’ll rarely generate new customers; you’ll have fewer returning customers; and products you want to sell will gather dust, meaning they’ll go unsold.
A poorly constructed homepage has a visitor bounce rate of 25-70%, so your homepage must be easy to read, understand and interact with.
On the other hand, a well-constructed homepage with a pre-introduction, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Call to Action (CTAs), and Point of Sale (POS) etc improves sales and your online presence.
First impressions are always the best, especially with online stores, of which 55.4% of customers shop with cellular devices. Therefore, a pre-intro must be short and easy to read and advertise who you are and what you do in no more than a few words.
For example, you could implement a logo with a catch-line underneath it, as seen in the image below: Titan, Storage Solutions.
In just two words, Titan has advertised what it does; though it’s a pre-intro, it still serves its purpose, and the customer knows they’re on the right site for storage solutions.
A pre-introduction should be positioned at the top of your homepage, be no more than five words long, easy to read and must sell or advertise what you do in under 3-5 seconds. Failing that, online customers will bounce and go elsewhere. An example of a site with no pre-intro or taglines can be seen below.
This site was plucked from Google, but what does it sell; fireworks, maybe? Who knows. There’s no logo, tagline, or description explaining what this company does or who they are. In addition, no commands instruct me to scroll down further.
Instead, the company has placed their pre-introduction at the bottom of its site, and what I perceived as a site that sells fireworks sells glow-in-the-dark toys. In under 10 seconds, I was bored and scrolled to a new site. And that is precisely what bouncing means which is a negative for you and your company.
Your About section is similar to a pre-intro, apart from the fact it tells the online shopper a little more about you and your company. You may want to include a picture of yourself, a product you sell and a CTA button directing customers to your complete About section.
Contrary to popular belief, adding an image of yourself to your homepage (CTA) About section boosts your business’s credibility, sales, and customer loyalty.
Showing your face on your website is a beautiful way to help those potential clients put a face to your name. As service providers, we are essentially personal brands, and people want to get to know the person behind the business.
The screenshot below illustrates the brief About section I’ve included on my homepage as a slider. The About section describes who I am and what I do in 12 seconds. In addition, I’ve included an image of myself and a link to my full bio underneath.
Online customer reviews are an excellent avenue to grab consumers’ attention and increase sales. The importance of customer reviews is tremendous as they benefit most consumers and are responsible for securing your online visibility in search rankings.
Nearly nine out of ten (88 per cent) consumers worldwide make an effort to consult reviews when discovering a local business (Podium, 2021). Therefore, including “genuine” social proofing on your homepage is essential in the form of reviews.
There are umpteen ways to implement social reviews on your homepage; for example, I’ve included star text ratings updated every month and registered with Trust Pilot.
However, one of the best social reviews I’ve seen is that of video testimonials. Video testimonials offer more credibility than text-based reviews. They are much more effective in educating your target audience and increasing their trust in your brand.
I recommend including only three videos in a column underneath your brief About section and keeping the recordings under two minutes.
It’s also a good idea to update video testimonials every month and don’t always include the positives.
For example, you may want to include a negative customer testimonial and how you rectified that problem in the same video.
Not only does this increase customer loyalty and sales but also credibility. Remember, you want customers to return instead of using you once.
It’s important to describe what you do and what benefits customers can gain from buying your brand or hiring you. So how do you write about benefits? It would be best if you dug deeper to get to the benefits of your product or service. State your feature, then ask a question like, so what? …and so? or …which means?
Below are three examples in which you can describe yourself and the benefits customers can gain:
I’m a professional photographer.
I know how to shoot photography professionally and I’m qualified.
I can shoot professional portraiture and provide a deluxe professional editing service.
I’m also insured and can provide an enhanced disclosure.
If someone trips over my equipment or I damage property at your home, I’m insured for damages and legal costs. Moreover, you can rest assured that you’re not letting dangerous criminals into your home.
Your property and mine are covered by insurance and your family will feel safer.
You’ll be happier.
So does this mean as a photographer, you should sell happiness? No, not really, but everyone likes jobs done correctly the first time, so they don’t have to hassle with rework and damaged household items. In addition, its essential customers can trust you, especially those that have never met you or vulnerable customers.
Learn how to address the benefits that features provide. Here’s another example:
I have an app that helps you find my business and book your photo-shoot.
You can find me quickly and book a time that works best for you.
You won’t waste quality time with your family on bad experiences.
Or this one:
My studio has the best customer reviews in the city.
If so many others have had good experiences, so will you.
Once you’ve finalised your benefits and features, you can include them on your homepage under your customer testimonials.
Keep this area of your homepage clean and easy to read, and make it pop.
For example, you may want to include your benefits and features in a testimonial pattern, or you can include them in a “Why Choose Us” post, as seen below by ABC Copyrighting.
The “Why Choose Us” is the most preferred way of illustrating your benefits and features; however, as mentioned, it’s also best to experiment. Sometimes customers like to see something different instead of the norm.
Call to Action
Call to action is a term used for elements in a web page that solicit a move from the user. The most famous manifestation of a call to action in web interfaces comes in the form of clickable buttons that, when clicked, act (e.g. “Buy this now!”) or lead to a web page with additional information (e.g. “Learn more…”) that asks the user to take action.
Call-to-action buttons are essential for every homepage. Without them, customers will become easily bored, you’ll generate fewer sales, and customers won’t be able to navigate your site.
Call-to-action links and buttons act as signposts telling users what to do next. Without clear CTAs, users may struggle to see how to buy a product or sign up for a service.
As a general rule, you should have no fewer than two CTA buttons on your homepage. For example, you’ll want one for signing customers up to a blog, and a second CTA for selling a particular product.
With that said, this rule can be broken, for example I offer several services that require more coverage than a simple menu bar title because I am competing with thousands of individual photographers and supermarkets, hence why I’ve included more than two CTA buttons on my homepage.
A navigation menu is an “easy to read” list of links to other web pages, usually internal pages on your site.
It’s essential to include a navigation menu to decrease bounce rate, thus giving your customers a clear path to your website from your homepage.
Navigation menus usually appear in the header or sidebar across a website. Without navigation, your customers will have no way to access other pages on your site and will bounce onto another.
Good website navigation is always designed with the user in mind. It uses clear, easy-to-understand language and links to the most important pages.
Since human short-term memory can remember about 7 items at once, only list 5-7 options on your highest level of navigation.
Any more than this, and you risk overwhelming people. Use short names for menu items. Just as too many menu items can overwhelm visitors, long item names can be confusing.
The image above illustrates how I designed my navigation menu. Instead of creating a kebab menu bar, I’ve placed my navigation menus into the header.
The kebab menu, also known as the three-dot and vertical three-dot menus, is an icon used to open a menu with additional options. The icon is usually at the top right or top of a screen or window.
However, it has disadvantages; for example, it’s often difficult to spot, and online shoppers that are not tech-savvy will likely think it’s part of the homepage design. Therefore, in my opinion, please keep it simple and include your navigation in the header.
It’s also worth noting I’ve included links to my social media pages. By adding social media icons to your navigation menus, you can encourage people to visit your different social networking profiles.
This can get you more followers and engagement across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Content offer shows your customers you have something of high value to offer.
There are several content offer examples you can include under your social proofing, such as:
- Audio files
- Paperback or hardback books
- Members-only YouTube channel
- Blog subscription
I’ve included a free blog subscription on my homepage because I already have too much to offer in CTAs.
Ebooks, webinars and YouTube channel subscriptions are currently the top craved-after content in the photography industry.
For example, I’ll soon include a members-only channel dedicated to flora and landscape photography processing on my homepage. Members must include their contact information and payment details to subscribe to the content I have on offer.
There are no “specifications” that make something a content offer. My rule is that if you’ve invested significant time and effort in creating something valuable for your target audience, you have every right to ask for contact information in exchange for getting it.
However, it’s worth noting that nowadays, a minority of customers do not like parting with information to receive content; therefore, provide some reassuring information to your content offer.
Below is an example of a “content offer” in which customers must share their email address to receive that content.
A secondary call to action should be offered under your content offer to provide additional conversion opportunities for customers not interested in your introductory offers.
For example, I sell prints and framed prints, and while that’s great for customers looking at buying such products, I also want to reel in more customers to increase sales.
Therefore, to increase conversion, I’ve added an event CTA for parties and weddings and a scrap-booking CTA for customers looking at building memories of loved ones nearing the end of life.
While your primary CTAs should be above the fold, it’s best to place secondary CTAs below the fold to give visitors something to click on as they scroll down.
Remember, your objective as a business is to sell more than just one or two products.
Take a supermarket as an example. Supermarkets usually sell food and drink products; however, to increase sales and to keep customers shopping in their stores, they also offer secondary products such as clothes, DIY products, cosmetics, etc.
In addition to your primary benefits, list some key product and service features too. This gives people more of an understanding of what your products and services provide. Like your benefits, your key features should be short and easy to read.
Below are several examples you could include in your key features section that will be listed under your secondary CTAs.
- Product design, i.e. functional use, outward appearance, dimensions etc.
- Quality, i.e. the quality of the product delivered to your customer.
- Functionality, i.e. in photography, this could be more about capturing the identity, personality, and essence of a subject with composition, lighting, and posing and whether you’re able to meet the customers’ goals and needs.
- Experience, i.e. experience is about the intangible features related to a product or service. While they may not be a requirement-like functionality, they can help create memorable moments for customers and possibly create loyal customers. Some examples could include a smooth onboarding process or getting 5-star service from customer support.
- Added value, i.e. added value product feature types centre on what a product comes with. It can give your product a higher perceived value when customers think they are gaining more features for the same price. Some eCommerce stores may accomplish this by adding gifts when people order.
An example of an “added value product feature” can be seen below by Starbucks. Starbucks focuses on more than just beverages. Take a look at EarthSleeves.
The sleeves fit perfectly around the cup so drinkers can hold their hot drinks without feeling the heat. It’s also designed to be environmentally friendly, so it pulls double duty as an experience and added value feature.
A key feature that I offer to customers is that of sustainability. For every ordered frame, a tree is planted, and all frames are presented in an eco-friendly, sustainable box. In addition, I use only local companies to help keep employment in the region high, and all of my frames are made from FSC-approved or reclaimed wood.
The vast majority of people that visit your website will need more time to be ready to buy. So, you’ll need to offer a link to a resource centre as a button or menu. A resource centre helps establish your credibility and authenticity and builds more trust in your customers.
My resource centre is a FAQ page with neat drop-down menus that feature commonly asked questions such as opening and closing times, product information, booking times, etc.
There’s no rules regarding how much information you should add into your resource center however its essential you sit down and put yourself in the customer shoes, to understand what questions they may need answering.
By compiling answers to common questions on every possible topic related to your business, an FAQ page gives visitors a central place to find the answers they need. An online store with no resource page will likely see new customers bounce onto other websites. Therefore the key here is to build trust.
Your resource centre button should be placed under your features banner or in the navigation menu. In addition, you’ll want to keep the text down to no fewer than 2-3 sentences, if that. For example, you may want to include a banner that states: “For more information about how we work, and the products and services we offer, please visit the resource centre here.”
In addition to customer success stores, video and text testimonials, awards and recognition can also help your brand and builds trust with new and old customers.
For example, you may want to include a logo of a prestigious organisation you’re a member of that represents your work or awards regarding your services and products.
Awards and recognition are best placed at the bottom of your homepage; ideally, you’ll want to link them to a post in which you or your company have been mentioned.
For example, I’m a member of the Guild of Photographers and have won numerous local and international photography awards in landscape, flora and seascape with several photography organisations.
While popups may be suitable for registering new customers or offering a discount on a product or service, they’re often bad for business.
According to a Yahoo! and eBay study on usability, 95% of internet users despise pop-up ads, making them the number one site annoyance.
Despite this study, many companies continue to use them.
With that said, popups do work if deployed correctly.
- The average pop-up ad converts as many as 3.09% of viewers. For comparison’s sake, know that the average click-through rate for emails across all industries is 2.61%.
- The top 10% performing pop-ups convert nearly 9.3% of all viewers.
- For some companies, pop-ups have increased email subscriptions by 86%.
- For many other brands, pop-ups have resulted in a 162% increase in new leads.
So, where is the best place to deploy these rather irritating adds?
Only show popups on pages indicating they might be interested in a specific type of content offer. Show the pop-up after they’ve either scrolled down the home page or after being on a page long enough to read some of the content. Only show the pop-up a couple times, not every time you return to the page.
If you want my advice, avoid popups at all costs; however, facts speak loudly here, and if they’re used correctly and not in a wrong way that’s repetitive, you will gain more conversion and potentially new sales.
Homepages must be easy to read and interact with while at the same time generating new customers and leads.
A poorly designed homepage will result in a lack of credibility and trust, your ranking on Google SEO will be low, and customers will become frustrated and leave your site.
In addition, you’ll lose sales and revenue, lose touch with your audience, and customers will not give you a second chance.
So, you should jot down your design on paper first or talk about your design with a dedicated website designer before building your site up.
Your homepage needs a site purpose; it’ll need to be able to target your audience with engaging content and be responsive and mobile-friendly.
In addition, it’s wise to freshen up your homepage with new content every 2-3 months in the same way an actual storefront would change its store around to match the seasons.
Benefits and features are critically important to attract customers and build trust. For example, customers need to see what you have to offer, whether it will work and if it’s worth spending money on.
Finishing, your homepage like your entire website must be SEO-friendly. Explain to Google and human visitors what your company/product does. Use keywords that match your homepage title, and spread that keyword evenly throughout your homepage.
My next article will focus more on SEO, headers and footers; thank you for reading.
J.J. Williamson | The Norfolk Photographer
My name is Jon Williamson; I’m an ethical photographer and writer with fifteen years of experience in the industry. I shoot landscapes, seascapes, riverscapes, fine art, and portraits. I also run workshops, run tours, and offer one-on-one photography feedback.