If you’re considering a website redesign or are wondering how to generate more leads from your website, it’s a good idea to start with your homepage.
Serving as your company’s virtual front door, this page is generally responsible for drawing in a majority of your website’s traffic. And despite its prominence, many businesses struggle to optimize it properly.
You see, your homepage needs to wear a lot of hats. Rather than treating it like a dedicated landing page built around one particular action, it should be designed to serve different audiences, from different origins. And in order to do so effectively, it needs to be built with purpose. In other words, you’ll need to incorporate elements that attract traffic, educate visitors, and invite conversions.
So to improve the performance of your homepage, check out the following infographic detailing 12 critical elements every homepage must have.
Download our collection of website homepage design examples here to see how these elements come together.
12 Critical Elements Every Website Homepage Must Have
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What You Should Include in Your Website Homepage Design
Within three seconds, a website needs to tell visitors what the business has to offer. That’s where your headline comes in. It may only be a few words, but it’s one of the most important piece of copy on your website.
Many different types of people might visitor your website, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a few words that hit home for everyone. Instead, the folks at KISSmetrics recommend writing your headline to target the 20–35% of those people that are most likely to be happy with your product.
Keep the headline itself clear and simple. Dropbox‘s headline is a great example: “Securely share, sync, and collaborate.” It’s simple, yet powerful — no need to decode jargon to figure out what Dropbox really does. Plus, the word “securely” touches on a pain point for people looking for file managers. Notice how they repeat that word again in the sub-headline to really drive the point home.
Your sub-headline should supplement the headline by offering a brief description of what you do or what you offer. This can be done effectively by zeroing in on a common pain point that your product or service solves.
To optimize your headlines and text for mobile, use larger fonts to give visitors a better experience. Small fonts could force mobile visitors to pinch and zoom in order to read and interact with the content on your site. Our advice? Make your headlines and sub-headlines at least 22 px, and body copy at least 14 px.
Here’s an example of a great sub-headline from Podio: “Try the customisable work management solution leaders trust and employees love working on.” It hones in on a few common pain points for work management solutions by assuring visitors it’s customisable, trustworthy, and enjoyable to work with.
3) Primary Calls-to-Action
The goal of your homepage is to compel visitors to dig deeper into your website and move them further down the funnel. Include two to three calls-to-action above the fold that direct people to different stages of the buying cycle — and place them in spots that are easy to find.
These CTAs should be visually striking, ideally in a color that contrasts from the color scheme of your homepage, while still fitting in with the overall design. Keep the copy brief — no more than five words — and action-oriented, so it compels visitors to click whatever you’re offering. Examples of CTA copy are “Sign up,” “Make an appointment,” or “Try it for free.”
To optimize your CTAs for mobile users, make sure it’s big enough to easily touch with a finger. If you’re using a button, make it a minimum size of 44 px by 44 px so it’s big enough for people to press with their finger. Consider adding whitespace around your CTA, too, so mobile visitors can easily tap it without accidentally clicking on something they didn’t mean to.
Uber has a few great Primary CTAs on their homepage that are geared toward different personas: “Become a Driver” for potential drivers, and “Sign Up” for potential riders. Notice how starkly the bright blue CTAs contrast with the dark background.
4) Supporting Image
Most people are visual. Make sure to use an image (or even a short video) that clearly indicates what you offer. Use images that capture emotion and cause action, and avoid cheesy stock photos. (Here’s a list of 17 great places to find free stock photos online.)
To optimize your images for mobile users, use high-quality images that have a reduced file size. (HubSpot customers don’t need to worry about this, as images uploaded to HubSpot’s software are automatically compressed. Otherwise, tools like TinyPNG will do the trick.) Also, add alt text to your images in case mobile devices block any images by default.
The 4 Rivers Smokehouse homepage is a great example of emotional imagery: It features a series of short, high definition, and mouthwatering videos that play on a loop behind a simple headline, sub-headline, and primary CTA:
It’s not only important to describe what you do, but also why what you do matters. Prospects want to know about the benefits of buying from you because that’s what’ll compel them to stick around.
Keep the copy lightweight and easy to read, and speak the language of your customers. Evernote does a great job of listing features on their homepage in a way that’s compelling, visually pleasing, and easy to understand:
6) Social Proof
Social proof is a powerful indicator of trust. Your product or service could be the best in the world, and it’s okay to lay that claim — it’s just that people may not believe you unless they hear it from other people, too. And that’s exactly what social proof does.
Include just a few of your best (short) quotes on the homepage, and link to case studies if applicable. Adding a name and photo gives these testimonials more credibility. Codecademy nails this on their homepage, and you can click into any one story to read the whole case study:
The design and content in your homepage navigation could mean the difference between a website conversion and a bounce. To decrease bounce rate, give your visitors a clear path into your site from the homepage. Make the navigation menu visible at the top of the page, and organize the links in a hierarchical structure.
No one knows your website better than those who helped design it, so be sure to conduct user tests to make sure it’s simple and intuitive for visitors to find what they’re looking for on your site. Include a search box if you can. (Read this blog post for more helpful website navigation tips.)
Here’s an example of clear, well structured navigation design from Geek Squad‘s homepage:
8) Content Offer
To generate even more leads from your homepage, feature a really great content offer, such as a whitepaper, ebook, or guide. Folks who may not be ready to buy might rather download an offer that gives them more information about a topic they’re interested in. If you need inspiration, here are 23 different content types to pick from.
Below is an excerpt from IMPACT‘s homepage. Below the fold, they offer four free ebooks on their own growth hacking secrets:
9) Secondary Calls-to-Action
Include secondary CTAs on your homepage to offer additional conversion opportunities for prospects who aren’t interested in your primary objective. Think of them like the contingency plan: They offer another path for visitors who are not yet ready for something as high-commitment as you’re asking.
While your primary CTAs should be above the fold, place secondary CTAs below the fold to give visitors things to click on when they scroll down. For example, below the fold on Trustev‘s homepage, you’ll find three, clearly labeled calls-to-action that give folks who’ve scrolled that far more options to click on. These secondary CTAs target three different categories — retailers, virtual goods, and financial — that appeal to three different buyer personas.
In addition to benefits, list some of your key features. This gives people more of an understanding of what’s provided by your products and services. Again, keep the copy light and easy to ready. Dropbox for Business, for example, doesn’t shy away from showing off a features matrix right on their homepage below the fold.
Again, most visitors to your website won’t be ready to buy … yet. For folks who are looking for more information, offer a link to a resource center where they can browse relevant information. Not only does this keep them on your webpage for longer, but it also helps you establish your credibility as a thought leader in your industry.
KnowledgeVision makes a resources link one of their secondary CTAs below the fold. Notice how each of these secondary CTAs cover multiple stages in the buying cycle: a demo for people close to buying, examples for people who are interested but want more information, and resources for folks closer to the top of the funnel.
12) Success Indicators
In addition to customer success stories, both awards and recognition can also help inspire a good first impression. Is your company a critically acclaimed restaurant? Were you voted best new app this year? Let your homepage visitors know of your accomplishments. Like social proof, it’ll give your business more credibility to those who don’t know you.
On Cleanify‘s homepage, for example, you’ll find the names of famous publications that have written about them, like The New York Times and TechCrunch:
Don’t Forget to Optimize For Mobile
Whether you’re tweaking your homepage or redesigning it completely, be sure that it is fully optimized for mobile. Not only are mobile-friendly websites better for SEO thanks to Google’s algorithm change in April 2015, but they also make for a much better user experience for the increasing number of people browsing the web on their mobile devices.
Making your homepage mobile-friendly includes optimizing your headlines, sub-headlines, and body text copy, your calls-to-action, your images, and more. Here are some mobile optimization tips to get you started.
Does your website’s homepage have all or most of these elements? Are there any we missed? Share with us in the comments.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.