Your Homepage Might Be Killing Your Business
Business owners take a lot of care in ensuring their brick and mortar location has “curb appeal” and an enticing entryway. Ensuring they have a website with curb appeal is just as important. Although visitors arrive through many pages, the homepage plays a big role in creating a great customer experience. It welcomes and sets the tone.
Not much is written on the role, power and design of a good homepage, so let’s get some real insight into how visitors experience a home page.
The homepage is more than an introduction and welcome page. It’s the epicenter, an orientation setpoint, even if visitors come in through a subpage. It helps visitors reset themselves so they can understand your value proposition in an effortless, pleasant way.
The homepage is a key part of the customer experience and if it sucks, it’s a disappointment and not the experience they were hoping for
Looking for a Good Experience and a Good Relationship
Visitors also arrive because they’ve Googled you or your company and want to know more about you and what your relationship with them will be. And that often starts with what they see in the Google search results. Whether B2B or B2C customers, they’re trying to visualize the relationship they want, which might be: (a) let’s work together, (b) I’d like the expert to handle it, or (c) I’ll tell you what I want.
Your homepage indicates which type of provider you’re going to be and whether you believe in the relationship they want.
This homepage screenshot above is from a Vancouver company called Waves Coffee House. Their homepage suggests: “You’re going to have a superb, fresh cup of coffee.” The fresh, clean design tells you right away it’s about the coffee (and the cream). This isn’t Tim Horton’s or Starbucks (I’ll tell you what I want). It’s a different and more compelling brand (Let’s work together). And it’s visual because coffee drinkers don’t want to read — they want a coffee experience – to taste it visually.
Their logo should have some vertical squiggly lines to represent the steam rising from a cup and perhaps a few more curves fused into the webpage design. The site should have social media posts and it’s Twitter is good. It could use a game or more interactivity. Visit their site right now.
Dear Customer — Today’s an Adventure – Let’s Start It Right!
Right off the bat they give you their Toonie Tuesdays/Thursdays – a cheap latte, showing their generosity and customer appreciation. Their coffees, menus, and locations are easy to find. All you have to do is mouse over the location link and you get an instant view of their locations in Vancouver. They even tell you how to brew your own coffee using their Specialty Grade product: the top 10% of coffee beans from Costa Rica and Columbia. All of it is quickly accessible from the homepage navigation.
The value proposition really accents on good coffee, yet they have free wifi, good food and you can book their meeting rooms. What an interesting coffee house! The only thing missing is a gallery of nice photos of the interior showing customers relaxing and enjoying their experience. I’ve never visited Waves, but it looks like a hip place to be in Vancouver.
In this case, the customer experience begins on the homepage. It creates a good impression of Waves Coffee House. For contrast, here’s Tim Horton’s and Starbucks homepages. For these companies, the relationship is more like you’d have with a vending machine (which is what quite a few consumers want).
Oh oh, My Homepage Sucks
Before your eyes go red and you strangle your web designer, consider that you shouldn’t have put it all on their shoulders. They’re not marketers or sales psychologists. Instead, try to understand what’s going on. Actually, there’s a lot going on and you should work with them to create the customer experience you want to deliver.
Make your customers believe in your business and that this relationship is going to be the one they want.
Let’s go over all of things your homepage should do:
- welcome visitors and make them feel comfortable
- build credibility and relevance (Relevance is King): prove you believe what they believe and are the best provider of what they seek)
- build trust and and wipe out uncertainty (use sensible conversational style and be transparent and open)
- build desire for your solution and your brand (identify and show the satisfaction they’ll feel when they use your service/product)
- build urgency and intent (indicate why they should contact you right now)
- communicate your unique value proposition quickly
- promise satisfaction (imply the delivery of the benefits they want)
- build curiosity (links to interesting content)
- make a visual impact and be attractive
- present a few key benefits for them
- make the navigation understandable and have a purpose for all your pages
- route traffic to specific key sub pages (services and contact pages)
I’ve worked in every industry from health supplements to pharmaceuticals to online casinos and sports ecommerce, however I’ve developed particular expertise in real estate marketing. If you’re not in real estate, still look at these observations, because they apply to any industry.
A Great Home Page Needs a Good UVP
Your home page tells them who you are, what you do and what it means for them: that’s all about your Unique Value Proposition. You absolutely must understand your unique value proposition. If you don’t, you’re operating your business in a fog with essentially guesswork about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. A good UVP matches you to the customer perfectly. That’s the best result possible.
12 Tips to Improve Your Homepage
- Outline your value proposition point by point (what is the essence of your offering and why you’re relevant to them)
- Get a modern mobile friendly design (html5 design and fast loading)
- Outline the key points about your brand/product/service (quick summary of top 5 features)
- Define your customer experience and outline the key benefits customers want (quick summary of top 5 benefits)
- Create simple navigational cues to your best content (pop up helpers on links)
- Make your page scannable with headings that speak your promise of value and satisfaction (smooth orderly progression of your benefits they can take in)
- Use original photography that evokes emotion and depicts the experience your customer dreams of
- Use headlines, subheads, small pics, bolded text to smooth out the flow of the reading experience and build your value proposition in their mind
- Include social proof – the number of likes, followers, and shares can influence readers and create trust, respect, credibility, and comfort
- Build urgency, capitalize on their impulse/intent, and have a call to action
- Build curiosity with teasers for your content pages where they can explore some topic that’s of vital interest to them.
- Have one key benefit idea that “hooks” them (e.g., cheap taste of a premium product)
There is no one perfect homepage design. You can only design after you’ve gone through the 12 steps above. The photos, fonts, layout, navigation, and headings you use all depends on what experience your targeted customer wants. That begs the question: Do you know your customer:)