What Makes a Good Homepage? Elements You Should Include

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Whether you’ve started a new business, or you’re ready to overhaul an existing site, your website will serve as the digital storefront for your brand. The homepage acts as the foyer, responsible for every prospective customer’s first impression, and should be as informative as it is enticing. But what makes a good homepage?

There are a few specific elements that every homepage should contain. These elements should ideally guide users effortlessly through the buyer’s journey, from introduction, to investigation, to conversion. Without these elements, buyers may get lost along the way, become frustrated, or simply lose interest.

Below, we’ll outline the elements we include in all of our award-winning websites to help our clients communicate quickly, clearly, and well with their customers.

The Journey Through Your Homepage

Thanks to modern-day search engine optimization (SEO), most users that come across your website are already interested in your offering. They have a problem and are actively seeking solutions, and your website showed up in search results relating to your business.

Now what?

Once a user clicks on a link to your website, you have exactly one chance to make your first impression. There’s an old adage that people make 11 decisions about someone within the first 7 seconds of meeting them. While the origins of this concept are uncertain, new studies do show us that users are spending less time on websites, viewing fewer pages, and scrolling shorter lengths. Their first impressions are being formed faster than ever before.

As websites continue to grow in number and complexity, buyers’ attention spans grow shorter. There are simply too many options for too many offerings for any user to invest a great deal of time looking at your website. You need a streamlined, simple homepage design with clear messaging to convert users before they move on to another seller.

Here are the essential elements of a homepage we use to hook users before they bounce:

CaseWorthy's homepage headline

A clear, concise headline

One common business practice, both on- and offline, is developing an “elevator pitch.” With an effective elevator pitch, representatives of an organization can accurately summarize their services, expertise, and benefits to anyone in 30 seconds (roughly the length of an elevator ride). For easily distracted web audiences, businesses need to summarize their offering even further to a single sentence — or less.

Your clear, concise headline should explain what your business does in a broad sense, but not too broad. Here at 434 Marketing, “We craft websites that engage your users and generate results.” That single sentence sums up the work we do in web design, UX research, UX testing, technical SEO, content marketing analysis and strategy, and more. The work is complex, but the headline makes the offering simple.

Spend some time generating headlines. Write down the 10 best single-sentence descriptions of what you do and what sets you apart from the competition. Choose the best of the 10 headlines to serve as your primary value proposition. Once you decide on the headline, make it BIG and place it “above the fold,” or at the top of your homepage, so it is the first thing users see when they visit your website. If you can’t decide on a headline, that’s okay — if your website is built on a user-friendly CMS like WordPress, you can easily adjust your headline over time.

A brief explanation of Community Access Network's services

Brief explanation of your offering

Don’t worry if your headline feels too short. Once you hook a user with your clear, short headline, you can flesh out some of the details further down the page. However, even this explanation should be kept short. Beware the “curse of knowledge,” or the tendency to over-explain to — and in the process overwhelm — audiences with less expertise on the topic than yourself.

If your business offers several services, try to describe each of them in a single paragraph of three to five short, easy-to-understand sentences. If you need or want to expand further on these products or services (which we do recommend), include a link under each of these paragraphs to a dedicated landing page. This will allow users who want the information to find it, without cluttering your homepage and overwhelming users.

Virginia Vein & Wellness Center

Knowledge of your users’ pain points

It’s hard to offer a solution without addressing the problem you’re solving. After you explain what you’re offering, make it clear you understand your users’ challenges and pain points. Acknowledge the consequences of leaving their problem unaddressed to create a sense of urgency and demonstrate your expertise in the field. This is a great opportunity to build trust and rapport with your audience.

Benefits of working with Eleven09

Benefits of working with you

Now, your prospective buyer understands what you offer, and they’re interested. However, there are likely several competitors vying for this same customer’s attention. Now is the time to set yourself apart!

Describe what your business can do that others cannot. Clarify your unique processes and workflows, or what features and services available to your clients that aren’t included in competitors’ packages. Describe the ideal outcomes you aim to deliver. Help your visitor understand the positive outcomes of partnering with you and your brand.

LynchburgVirginia.org imagery

Graphic elements that enhance the content

The human brain processes images much faster than text. MIT neuroscientists conducted one study through which they found the brain can process images seen for as little as 13 milliseconds. If you want to make a bigger impact within those precious few seconds of making a first impression, be sure to include eye-catching, digestible, and evocative imagery.

A mixture of high-quality photos, illustrations, and other design features can bring your website to life. Images grab visitors’ attention, and humans have strong responses to images of people. Data visualizations allow users to interpret huge stores of data with a single glance. Use your words to describe specifics and details about your business’ value while using supplemental visual cues to communicate much more with less effort from users.

Benchmark Systems provider testimonials

Testimonials from past and current clients

Even if you describe your offering perfectly and highlight all the benefits of working with you, prospective buyers are not going to trust every claim. One way to distinguish yourself from snake-oil salesmen is with testimonials and reviews from past and current clients. Including testimonials from objective third parties confirming your claims will strengthen users’ confidence in you and your services.

Ask your clients to submit a short testimonial attesting to your exceptional product, service, or customer relations. Once you have collected a few client testimonials, display them prominently on your homepage close to your call-to-action.

Infinite Hero Foundation's thoughtful CTA

Thoughtful calls-to-action

Now your customer understands your offering, feels confident that you can solve their problem, and trusts your authority on the topic thanks to testimonials. There is one step left in the buyer’s journey: conversion.

A call-to-action is an explanation of what exactly a prospective customer needs to do if they want to establish a relationship with your brand. CTAs can include newsletter signups, appointment scheduling, demo or consultation requests, document downloads, contact form submissions, and more. Each of these will help your business connect with users directly, so your sales team can continue to warm the lead and eventually close a deal (or multiple).

Engage your users and generate more leads with 434 Marketing.

Your website homepage is the most important webpage on your site, and optimizing its content to meet constantly changing user needs and behaviors is no small feat. You need to understand user behavior, search engine optimization, principles of design, digital trends, and more.

Or, you can work with experts who specialize in these skills.

Here at 434 Marketing, we specialize in building user-focused digital experiences that grab users’ attention and guide them through their journey. We conduct research to stay on top of digital trends and changes in technology so our clients can focus on providing the services they’re passionate about.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can revamp your digital space, boost your brand visibility, or generate more leads, contact us. We’d love to hear more about your business and share ways we can help.