Now that you’ve created your menu, learned how to add pages, and know what content blocks you need to use for different things, it’s time to set up your home page! In this lesson we’ll go over some basics about what you should and shouldn’t include on your home page, and how to lay it out to have the best chance of getting the results you want from your site visitors.
If you have a really small site your home page might even be your only page, which is totally fine.
Either way, you want this page to be well laid out, to answer your visitors questions, and to compel them to take an action.
One note. We’re talking about the front page of your website in this lesson because it’s important to have an effective front page; but it’s dangerous to assume that people will always reach your homepage first, so make sure your other pages make an attempt at following this advice as well.
When people visit your website they may or may not already know who you are. They may have clicked on your site from a comment on Facebook, or from a random Google search, and not know you from Adam. It’s also possible they already know everything about you, but we’re going to operate as if they don’t for the sake of building a home page that works for you.
Your home page needs to quickly and efficiently answer a few questions for someone that doesn’t already know you. It should answer:
- Who you are
- What you do/sell/write about
- Why they should work with you/purchase from you/read your blog
- How they can work with you/purchase from you/read your blog
Answering these questions doesn’t have to be cold and informal, you actually want to put as much of your personality into the site as you can while still being as professional as your industry calls for.
There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to how you should lay out your homepage. Maybe you have a small service business and your homepage is made up of five short sections giving your client all the information they need to be able to call and book you. Maybe your site is mainly a blog and your homepage consists of your blog posts and a sidebar introducing you and inviting readers to sign up for your email list. Maybe you’re a restaurant and your home page shows some amazing food porn andicons with options for viewing the menu, reserving a seat, and getting directions.
The most important thing to remember when you’re designing your homepage is that it’s not for you, it’s for your potential client. Whatever the main reason is that they’re visiting your site, you want to make sure they can find it easily. You also want to make sure they can determine what it is you want them to do, and that it’s made easy to do that. Which is where clear calls-to-action come into play.
Calls-to-action are simply parts of a site that urge your visitor to take action. This might be an email sign-up form asking them to stay up to date on your latest offers, it might be a large button on your services page prompting them to request a quote, or any number of other things depending on your end goal.
You should always have a goal in mind when you’re building a website. I ask my clients before we get started what their two main goals for the site are, and I give them examples like signing people up for their email list or selling their new e-book. Your goal might be to make money with affiliate links or book photography services. Whatever it is, starting with that end goal in mind will help you make it clear for site visitors what you’d like them to do.
To be effective you want your site to be a good mix of information and calls-to-action. Without one the other isn’t as effective… if you don’t tell them about yourself and your offerings, but just paste Buy Now buttons everywhere, they probably aren’t going to trust you enough to click that button. If you tell them all about your offerings and build that trust but never give them a way to buy you’re going to be equally disappointed. As a general rule you want to be 80-90% informational, and 10-20% sales-y.
If you aren’t sure what to put on your home page one quick exercise you can do is take a look around the site and see if you can pull a small piece of content from each page. For example, you might grab a short paragraph and a photo from your About page to create a small section introducing yourself or your brand, then include a button they can click to view the whole About page. If you have a gallery or portfolio of your work you can use a Gallery Block to include just a few featured images on the home page, again with a link to view to full gallery.
Both of these suggestions also answers one of the questions we talked about earlier - the About information tells them Who you are, and the Gallery of your favorite work tells them What you offer and potentially Why they should work with you. Using a Summary Block to add your most recent blog posts is another great way to keep visitors engaged, and if you’re writing about relevant, useful stuff you’re giving them one more reason to work with you.
As we finish this Module and get ready to move on to the fun part of making all this work you’ve done look good your action step is to use the tips in this lesson to finish setting up your home page. This doesn’t need to be a long page, just remember to keep it easy to read and focus on answering the Who, What, Why, and How for your brand.