The homepage is one of my most favorite pages to design on a website, and it’s a page you’ll want to give a lot of attention to. It’s the spot where you really get to welcome people into the website and give them a taste of what you have to offer, so they can choose their next step. Keep on reading, because I’m about to share homepage design tips to help you keep your website visitors interested!
Don’t feel like reading? Watch the video version instead! 👇🏾
When someone comes to your homepage, you want to do three things:
In order to give you some tips for improving your homepage, I’ve broken it down into five common mistakes that I often see:
Now let’s get into what’s involved in each of these mistakes, and what you should do instead.
I hope that you’ll learn something from this article and be able to use it to make your website better so that it’s better serving your audience and your business!
Also, keep in mind that the tips I’m sharing are more so for service-based businesses (photographers, coaches, etc.) than product-based businesses.
The first common mistake that I often see business owners make with their websites is that they’re very focused on a pretty design, but not necessarily the strategy that goes into website design.
Everybody wants their website to look nice, and that’s important. But what’s also really important in website design is the actual strategy that goes into the layout.
As a website designer, when I’m creating a website or a website template, I’m thinking about what is on brand for that business owner – as far as the colors and the fonts and the photos, that sort of thing. But I’m also very intentional about the layout that I’m creating, where I place things on the page, the copywriting included, etc.
So let me share a few tips for how you can make your website more strategic – in an authentic way. We’re not talking about being sleazy here, but just creating something more intentionally designed, and not just pretty.
With your home page, you really want to make people feel welcome and give them a taste of what your business has to offer – then direct them to other areas of your website that they would find helpful.
In addition to considering the purpose of that specific page, you’ll also want to have your layout support the main goal of your website overall.
So for example, if you’re a life coach, then your website probably exists to help you connect with more potential clients and hopefully book more clients. That’s the overall goal of your website, and every single page of your website should support that goal – including your homepage.
You want the structure of your homepage to be concise and intentional. Focus on the content/actions that support your goals, but you don’t have to advertise every single page on your site.
Treat your homepage like a curated guide that offers visitors a handful of clear options for their next step.
For example, going back to the life coach who wants to book clients, she would use calls to action (buttons) on the home page to invite people to check out her Services page. (We’ll talk more about calls to actions when we get to mistake #5.)
She might also have some sub goals for her website, like asking people to sign up for a freebie, or building trust and credibility by showcasing some client transformations.
The Hero section of a web page is the section at the very top, often right below the navigation bar. While knowing the strategy is important, your hero section matters so much.
Why? It’s the first thing that people see when they come to your site, and they often decide to stay or leave based on that initial impression.
You want the hero section to grab people’s attention, let them know if they’re in the right place, and make them want to stay on your website and find out more.
There are 3 key elements to a good homepage hero:
A value message is a one-sentence statement that makes it clear who you serve, what you’re offering, and how it can help them. You want to make this value message the first thing that people see in your hero section of your homepage.
The common formula for a value message is pretty simple:
I help [insert your ideal client] by [insert what you’re offering] so that, [talk about the value that the offer brings to their life].
If I’m using my own business as an example, I could say something like this: “I help creative small business owners by providing Showit website design that make it easy to have a quality website and stand out online.”
It’s one sentence, but I told them who I serve, what I’m offering, and how it can help.
That was just a very simple formula for writing your value message. You’ll find different variations of that out on the internet, but that’s basically the gist of it.
Once you have that down, you can get more creative with how you’re rearranging the parts of this value message. You can move the parts around and make it more tailored to your brand and more interesting, however you see fit.
For example, my current value message is “I help Creatives use design to make meaningful connections and have a greater impact.”
In addition to your value message, make sure to choose an on-brand image that will resonate with your audience, and a button inviting them to take action.
A few examples that come to mind:
Branding is two-fold. It’s the strategy of your business – the messaging. But also the visual branding that people often think about when they hear the word “branding” – like your logo, your color scheme, and your font.
Right now, I’m going to focus more on the visual side of branding. Let’s talk about what makes your brand cohesive and relevant, and what to do if your brand is outdated.
Visual branding is cohesive when all of the fonts, colors, and photos go together well. If there’s lots and lots of different fonts on your website, and you have lots of different colors, things are kind of all over the place, it will confuse your audience.
As a general guideline, I recommend sticking with 6 colors (plus black and white), and 2-3 fonts (4 max if you’re using an accent font, like cursive!).
Let’s say that you’re an engagement and wedding photographer. Your ideal client is very high-end, they respond well to pastel/romantic colors and dainty script fonts. But your website is very dark and heavy. This might be a turn off to your ideal client.
(Now that’s not to say that you can’t have a dark and moody website if you’re a photographer, because there’s plenty of those out there. But if it’s not right for your ideal audience, and what they expect to see out of the photographer, then it could be a turnoff.)
So make sure that when you’re developing your branding, you consider what appeals to your audience.
Cohesive branding goes right along with making sure that your branding hasn’t become outdated. Maybe you haven’t updated your website in a while, but your brand has grown and evolved. Or maybe you’ve changed your brand style on Instagram, but your website doesn’t look the same – things aren’t matching up.
You want to make sure that your brand is up to date visually and with your messaging everywhere that you’re present, whether it’s on your website or on your social media.
You want the words on your website to make an impact. You don’t want to have words on your page just to have words there and fill the space, but you also don’t want to put so few words that people can’t get the information that they’re looking for. That will just confuse them.
This could go for any page of your website, but is especially true for the homepage.
The actual words on the page are just as important – if not MORE important – than your website’s design. It’s so important to be intentional with the words you choose. I recommend working with a professional copywriter who can help you craft words that connect and convert, but I know that this isn’t always in the budget.
If you’ll be DIY-ing your website’s copy (text), here are some tips to keep in mind when writing for the home page:
For more DIY copywriting tips, check out this awesome interview I did with copywriter Ally Willis. I also highly recommend Ashlyn Writes’ blog!
We’ve been talking this whole post about how the goal of the homepage is to direct visitors to other areas of your website, and calls-to-action (CTAs) will help you do this!
Calls-to-action are short statements that invite people to take a specific action. They are often placed on clickable buttons.
For example, when I was talking earlier about the hero section, I mentioned having a button that says something like “explore services,” or “view portfolio.” Those are calls-to-action.
Throughout your homepage, you want to make sure that you have buttons that tell people what to do next. You want to guide people through your website intentionally, so that it’s easy for them to find what they’re looking for.
If someone’s on a section of your homepage where you’re telling them about yourself, you might invite them to read more of your story using a button with a CTA that links to your About page. Or if you’re showing your recent blog posts, you might have read more buttons.
So there you have it – 5 common mistakes that I often see on homepages and how you can fix them! If you’ve ever made any of these mistakes, don’t feel bad. We don’t know what we don’t know.
And having a business is just a constant journey of learning and experimenting and finding out how we can do better to serve the people that we are trying to reach through our businesses. So I hope that you feel empowered now to take these tips and make your homepage even better.
If you do make some changes to your homepage, based on this video, I’d love to see! You can take a screenshot of your home page and share it to your Insta story – just be sure to tag me @mayapalmerdesigns so I can see! Feel free to DM me on Insta or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) as well.
My main goal is to help you. So I’d really love to chat, and also answer any questions that you might have about websites.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave those in the comments below. Cheering for you as you make your website work better for your business!
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