As Dorothy famously said, “There’s No Place Like Home”. The home page is often the most frequently visited page of a site. It’s the place where we like to brag, promote our latest and greatest products, tease… and then we often start to miss the forest for the trees. We get distracted by these things and forget what’s really important. We need to pull out of “me” land, and remember that not everyone who visits our site knows who we are and what we are about. New visitors are finding us all the time, and they know nothing about us. We need to take a critical look at our homepage through fresh eyes and focus the homepage on what’s important, and remove or de-emphasize what’s not.
So what is important? New visitors are usually looking to answer the following questions: “Whose site is this? What can I do or buy here? Why should I stay here and not somewhere else?”
Whose site is this? Make sure your business name is clear. You can, and do communicate other things about your organization through your design choices (color, photos, and professionalism). What do these things communicate about you?
What can I do or buy here? It seems like a no-brainer, but many companies who’ve added ecommerce onto their sites have hidden their storefronts! Just because it makes logical sense to you, doesn’t mean it’s obvious to someone else. Make the portal into your store stand out.
Why should I stay here and not somewhere else? Impress me. What’s so great about this business or product? What is your unique selling position?
Remember that people usually don’t read websites – they scan pages. So your homepage needs to communicate the big picture quickly. Minimizing clutter helps focus your page. With every item on your homepage, ask, “Does this need to be here?” If it isn’t participating in answering one of the three main questions, remove it from the home page or, if it must stay, make sure it doesn’t distract from the things that are communicating the main message.
Ask others who’ve never seen it to give their quick feedback. What did they look at? What did they understand about your site? Then, edit your site as necessary.