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In times when mobile apps have become the sole customer (digital) touchpoints for some businesses, website design still impacts how your audience perceives a brand. Conversions do not happen merely via the finest aesthetics, compelling copy or well placed call-to-action buttons (CTAs). Website visitors need access to the right information and design controls to continue browsing and navigating in the website - easily and intuitively.
Home page is the entry point into a website and the face of your business. The Homepage sections are typically filled up based on available templates and trending design styles. Including all the “usually” available information on the website is insufficient to make a positive impression of the brand and it's highly unlikely that such a website resonates with the target audience. A usable website converts fast and by scores. Homepage design is the starting point to understand the target audience, deliberate over design decisions and implement a high usable website.
A usable homepage is designed around few key questions:
A business that designs the homepage based on the answers to the above questions is likely to convert more visitors into customers. However, answering these questions alone would not build your business a usable website. So here are a few design guidelines which must be taken into consideration when designing the homepage of your website.
#1 Stress on the Value your business offers to the users
Often confused with marketing taglines, this crisp yet simple expression of Value in a few words is the first thing that website visitors see. These words must express the benefits that your business offers along with the facts that make it unique, different or better than your competition. If this is expressed correctly, it helps to build that much needed connection with visitors.
Imagery and graphics
First impressions are lasting. That’s true for this top section of the website too. The visual impression including colours, fonts, Hero image /animation and shape of call to action buttons together contribute to the impression which must be reflective of your Brand and what your business does. Home page of a medical website should not look like an Internet technology website and the other way round.
‘About us’ page
There are billions of businesses and their websites out there. A typical person deals with at least four to five business websites everyday. Using google.com to find a place of interest, public transport to plan a commute, checking balance in the bank account, finding details about a place of interest, work related tools and finding answers to common questions related to health and well being. Given the online world is already crowded with competition, your website homepage must include a clear link to ‘About us’ page or directly provide sufficient information to build credibility.
#2 Get users a taste of your product / service
Think of first time home owners purchasing a home appliance in a Store vs on an eCommerce website. eCommerce does not offer users the ability to touch, feel and experience a product prior to making a purchase. In some cases, your business can allow users to experience your product and services. Especially so, if your product is an online offering.
Experiencing something first hand beats reading through several pieces of text and viewing images across the whole website. As an example, some webcam based eye-tracking websites get users to try out the feature. Users can see an on-screen marker moving around various areas on the page inline with their eye movement. The feeling of having accomplished something is a great way for users to share and also decide if they want your product/service.
#3 Present content that helps meet users goals
Whether in the homepage or via a link to another webpage from there, provide users a way with which they can find relevant content. Users want to get work done as fast as they can and move on. The Home page content that helps them achieve this objective straightforward, is many times more efficient than explaining about why and how your product or service works. Therefore always prioritise achievement user goals over other sections which explain or try to convince users about your business offering.
#4 include Social proof to build credibility
Sections with listing and access to Case studies, testimonials and other brands using your product or service helps people to relate with and build confidence in dealing with your business. Include them in your homepage but avoid overcrowding the home page by including all client logos even if your business is dealing with a hundred customers. Instead pick a leader in each industry segment.
Sections dedicated to rewards, accolades and security gives a lot of confidence to users in dealing with your business.
#5 Build a stronger ability to find information
People will not use what they can not find!
Providing a Search box on the homepage is not sufficient. A well engineered Search engine that produces results of interest and users intent is required to help users with what they were looking for.
The Search box must be strategically placed on the homepage depending upon the purpose it serves - that’s why you see the eCommerce websites putting the Search right at the top of the homepage. The users must be clear about the Scope of Search for instance, are they searching within a particular category or across the website. If a user enters the word,“table”, they could be searching for a study, dining or office table and may even be looking for a table fan, lamp or clock.
#6 Include a Footer section
To conclude, the homepage of the website is not just a decorative shop front. It is the relevance of the content and the order in which it is presented along with the aesthetic mix which makes a website usable, homepage usability is the first factor to consider while conducting your website design brainstorms and creating wireframes.
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