A home page is the gateway to your website and your business. It fulfills many roles. A good way to remember the four keys to home page success is the acronym IDEA:
Identity: The home page must quickly provide an identity for your business, and this must be displayed in several ways. Your logo needs to be prominently displayed, of course. But, next to the logo you should include a clearly worded description of what your company does. This helps the visitor quickly determine whether he/she has found what he/she is searching for.
In addition, the overall graphic-appeal of the site needs to be in line with your company’s identity and visitor needs and desires. One of my clients, SodaAshDirect.com, is a good example. The company has developed a niche market for soda ash and related products that are difficult to purchase in smaller, custom quantities. Most of the sources for this product sell by the truckload, and even then require lots of red tape to transact business with them. The image this site presents is all about ease of ordering and customer service.
Differentiation: Your home page must clearly, and quickly, differentiate you from competitors. Sometimes this differentiation is part of your graphic image, as in the example above. But, other times, this will need to be handled through text that describes competitive features like pricing, customer service and satisfaction, product quality, etc.
Elements of Trust: To make a sale, generate a lead, or even get a potential customer to visit additional pages of your site, your home page must build trust.
There are several ways to do this. Display logos of professional or trade associations to which you belong. Also certification seals that you have earned. Testimonials from your customers can be a good way to gain trust. Sometimes the best way to build trust is to offer some kind of guarantee or a free “sample.”
Remember, a website visitor may never have heard of your company before. Ask yourself what you would like to know about your company if you were a prospect. Then provide that information—or a link to it—on your home page.
Actionable Opportunities: Your home page also needs to include opportunities for the visitor to take action. Include some kind of sign-up form on the home page. In return for the contact information provided, you need to provide something of value to your prospective customer.
Examples include discount coupons. A downloadable “white paper” comparing your products with competing ones. Or advice delivered via download or via a phone call from your company. It is always best if the offer is for something delivered immediately—or at least within a few hours.
But, there are also other kinds of actions that your home page can encourage. A prominent link to important information can encourage the visitor to explore your website further. Or try a poll, allowing the visitor to offer an opinion.
Your home page is the doorway to your site, and you don’t want prospects to end their visit there. By carefully constructing your home page to include these IDEAs, you will find greater success and profitability.