Article By Michael Lenzen Originally Posted here
Your home page is by far the most important part of your website because it’s the only impression that many people will get of your company. Generally, you only have a few seconds to catch visitors’ attention and convince them to continue surfing your site. Therefore, by optimizing your home page, you should be able to get more out of your entire website. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Give Them What They Want
Customers who come to your site generally want to know two things: what do you offer, and how can it benefit them. If you don’t answer these questions clearly and quickly on your home page, there’s a good chance potential customers will give up and move on to your competition.
So how do you answer customers’ questions? First, you should prominently feature a section on your home page that rotates featured products, services or specials. Also, make sure customers know why they should choose your product or service over your competitors’. Is it because you’re cheaper? Do customers get a great experience? Do you provide the best quality? Depending on your competitive advantage, you might want to prominently feature your price, customer testimonials or product reviews.
One of the best ways to frustrate your website’s visitors is by refusing to provide easy access to your contact information. Don’t bury your phone number deep in your site – put it right at the top of your home page. If you have multiple locations, let people search for the location nearest them. Sometimes, the only reason people visit a website is to find a way to talk to a real person. Customers will reward you with more interaction if they can easily locate your phone, email, chat and location information.
Follow the Leader
You can get great ideas for your home page by looking at the sites of some of your largest competitors. For instance, if you are a small electronics store, take a quick look at Best Buy’s website. If you run your own plumbing business, check out Roto Rooter’s home page. Because major corporations spend millions on their websites, they invest heavily in research to determine which page configurations work best. Obviously, you should never copy someone’s work, but it is perfectly acceptable to base your design on principles used by others who have researched what works on the Web.
Don’t Waste Above-the-Fold Space
In the interest of making your website more attractive, you may be tempted to fill the most prominent spot of your home page with a large Flash video or picture. However, you should be extremely careful about what you put “above the fold,” or the area you can see without scrolling. Because everybody who visits your site will see this part of your home page, you need to fill it with items that add the most value. For example, a link to your hot new product would work a lot better in this area than a two-year-old video about the history of your company.
Your home page is the first impression most people get of your company. You wouldn’t clutter the reception area of your business with junk, would you? Then stay away from cutesy graphics, cheesy music, huge borders and loud colors on your home page. Look as professional as you can by using solid graphic design and a conservative layout. Being professional on your home page is a great way to build trust with your customer – trust that could lead to a relationship and sale down the road.