Websites have become the first point of contact many small businesses have with their customers. Consider your habits when searching the web for something in particular. If you land on a page that looks dated or has a confusing navigation, it is likely that you quickly hit the back button and continue on with your search. Now take into account your audience and their habits; typically younger generations are frustrated by slow loading sites and older generations prefer websites with simple menus and navigation. With a bad first impression you lose potential conversions but with a strategic and well-designed website you can gain repeat customers.
Run Your Site Through the Test
Evaluate Google Analytics
If you Google Analytics is not installed on your website, now is the time to install it. Every day that you wait, you are missing an opportunity to collect data. The process is free and fairly simple but don’t hesitate to reach out to your web designer for assistance. This valuable tool provides insights into how many people are visiting your website, what pages they are navigating to, how long they are spending on each page, how they found your website and so much more. Pay special attention to how many visitors are landing on your home page and how much time they are spending on it. What is the goal of your website? You should be able to see if your home page is allowing people to accomplish that goal successfully.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: there is a free service that allows you to watch someone experience your website for the first time. You can receive three tests per email address every month.
1. Go to http://peek.usertesting.com/ and enter your website url.
2. Fill out the form with your name, email address, etc.
3. Receive an email notification containing a link to the video of someone experiencing your website for 5 minutes.
The user is prompted to answer the following questions:
- What is your first impression of this web page? What is this page for?
- What is the first thing you would like to do on this page? Please go ahead and try to do that now. Please explain your experience.
- What stood out to you about this website? What, if anything, frustrated you about this site? Please summarize your thoughts regarding this website.
Test it on Different Devices
Although it may sound simple, many business owners have never tired to view their website on anything other than their computer. Take a look at your website on your phone or an Ipad. Is it still easy to navigate? Is the text size adjusted appropriately? Does your website have any ads or popups covering it that make it difficult to use on a device? Are the buttons large enough to select?
Brand Consistency Check
It is crucial to have consistency between your website and any other branded materials that your business uses. Are the fonts and colors consistent? Does your website match the look and feel of your business cards, brochures, etc.? Learn more about the importance of brand consistency here.
Let’s Talk Content
Although the content of each home page is determined by the individual website goal/target audience and industry, there are a few guidelines that ring true for all sites.
- Contact information should be easy to find. Traditionally the abbreviated version is included in the bottom (footer) of every page.
- Make a statement, literally. Your website should have a 6-12 word statement identifying your unique selling proposition. Users are spending less and less time reading and more time skimming. Make this clear, concise and place it near the top of your home page.
- Make a call-to-action. You should tell your audience what they need to do next after landing on your home page. What is the most important next step they can take?
- Design your navigation/menu for the user. Your user’s experience is of the utmost importance. Be wary of flashy bells and whistles that make the navigation difficult to find or use. Your home page is an important landing page that should allow users to quickly and easily find the exact information they are looking for.
- Cut the clutter. Consider each element on the home page and it’s purpose. Is it important to only include elements that assist your audience in perceiving the correct image of your brand and that contribute to their success in completing the goals you have already determined (ie. signing up for your email list, purchasing a product, booking an appointment, etc). Packing too much information on the home page can leave users feeling rushed and overwhelmed. Embrace white space.
If you have made updates to your website, please go back and run your home page through the test again. Unlike a printed brochure, websites are easy to update and adjust as you receive feedback from your audience. Take advantage of this concept and make sure you are investing in a professional website that grows with your business and allows you to make adjustments.
Please share this post with friends who might be interested. If you have questions on how to maximize your own home page, don’t hesitate to ask!