As a local business, the home page of your website is your virtual shop window. It attracts visitors, draws them in and hopefully encourages them to buy. It’s very likely potential customers will look at your business’s website before they buy from you, even if you don’t sell online. So it’s essential your website tells them what they need to know easily and clearly.
Follow these eight tips to help you create a more effective website home page.
1) Be clear about who you are
A person will spend just a few seconds looking at your website to decide whether or not your business offers what they need, so it’s important to let them know who you are straight away. Make sure this is very clear by using your business name and logo at the top of the home page, or your logo and a concise explanation of your business known as a strapline (if your business name isn’t totally clear). For example, if you run a local café called Jimmy’s, you could use your logo plus “A local café with great atmosphere” as your strapline.
2) Have a strong, simple call-to-action
The main point of your home page is to encourage visitors to do something. This ‘something’ completely depends on the business you run, and what your business aims are. You might want visitors to go to your store, book online or call you. Use the most important thing you want them to do and write a strong ‘call-to-action’ at the very top of your home page that is big, bold and cannot be missed.
3) Explain what you offer – simply!
Although you might want people to take a particular action straight away, it’s likely they’ll keep reading your home page to see what else you do. Your home page should therefore include a short description of your business and the types of products and services you offer. This could be a bullet point list of services, example products or a couple of sentences about what people can expect from your business. The key is to keep it short, simple and in words your audience will understand – that means no jargon! For Jimmy’s café, this might be something like: “Open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week, serving home-cooked vegetarian food in friendly, lively surroundings.”
4) Tell customers the benefits
To further convince people to shop with you, you can explain the benefits of buying from you. This could be your experience, history, awards that you’ve won, how many customers you have or simply that you’re proud of delivering excellent customer service.
All these things help potential customers trust your business to give them what they need, whether that’s a lunchtime sandwich, plumbing services or accountancy.
5) Showcase your success stories
Another way to build trust is to use customer testimonials and reviews on the home page of your website, which prove to people you’re reliable and a good business to buy from. You could take these from review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor or Trust a Trader, and link to your profile on these sites so visitors can find out more.
If your business is a member of any accredited bodies or organisations, it’s also a good idea to put their logo or badge on your website. This helps to establish you as a trustworthy company, making it more likely that people will continue to browse your website and buy from you.
6) Make sure it’s easy to navigate
Once visitors have looked at your home page, they might want to visit other parts of your website to find out more about you and what you offer. An easy-to-navigate website which shows different pages clearly will be more appealing to users. Website navigation is like a map which shows them a clear path to what they’re looking for.
Your main navigation menu should be at the top of your home page, so it’s obvious as soon as you visit your site. You can use drop-down menus to categorise pages, making it simpler to find information. If your home page design has a side bar, you can also use this for links to other pages or external sites (like your social media profiles).
7) Use simple, attractive design and ‘real’ images
Just like any piece of marketing, the design of your home page will have a huge impact on whether people read it and take action. A lot of our tips are about making things clear, and it’s no different with the design of your home page. A simple, clear, attractive design is much easier for people to use and read than one that’s cluttered with lots of information, images and colours.
Using a few images on your home page can attract future customers and communicate your business in more than just words. Avoid using stock photography, as it can often appear to look unnatural. Instead, consider investing in a professional photographer to take images of you and your business for your website, which will give you a much better result and be more appealing to your audience.
8) Don’t forget to make it mobile-friendly
Finally, it’s very important that your website is mobile-friendly. Some older websites aren’t easy to see on mobile or tablet screens; the text is very small, links and buttons are hard to click, and images slow down the loading time of your site.
You can see if your current home page is mobile-friendly by taking our free digital health check. If it’s not, consider redesigning it (with help if you need it) so it looks better and works effectively for people who might be visiting from a smartphone. For help on optimising for mobile, read our guide.