One of the most consistently confusing aspects of planning a website is the homepage — what should go on it? What is its purpose, anyway? Should you even have one or should you make the blog index your “homepage”?
It’s come to be my belief that most people should have a homepage on their website. Why?
- The homepage should give people a first taste of who you are and how you can help
- It makes “Start Here” pages moot
- It’s on average the page that gets the most traffic on your website, so make it count!
- It’s your platinum, glittery, chocolatey opportunity to guide people exactly where you wanna take ‘em on your website, so they don’t get distracted by an Instagram feed and instead actually — OH, RIGHT — check out your services, or blog, or recipes, or whatever you want a first-time visitor to gravitate toward so they can get to know your amazingness and wanna work with you ASAP
There are some best practices to keep in mind when it comes to what to include on your homepage and how to go about deciding that, so let’s go over some important points, my fellow entrepreneur.
How to plan your homepage
1. Pull (the right) people in
You have about 3 seconds to convince someone not to leave your website. You gotta tell them what you do and who you do it for (who you help and how) effectively and quickly.
How do you do this? With succinct copy (yes, your company name + tagline can go a long way here!). Not a paragraph. Not a vague and impersonal, “Welcome to my website!” eyeroll-inducing opener. Something real and something specific. Design plays a role too, naturally, but copy comes first when planning anything on your website.
The goal here is to draw in the right people and turn off the rest, so be bold (and fly that quirky flag, yo). Sure, by doing this you’ll captivate the right peeps and repel the rest — but/and this is awesome because then the wrong ones won’t sign up to your list and become dead weight you pay for every month. You always want to pull in the right people only, not just anyone.
Especially when starting out, we all wanna cast a wide net because we’re afraid of niching down and losing out on business — but this isn’t dating, this is business, and in business, targeted wins (in dating too, arguably!).
Superhero tip: Pretend you’re at a party where you’ve started talking with someone and — BAM — you realize she’s your ideal client. Pretend you’ve got 3 seconds to explain yourself until her partner comes to whisk her away to dance to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” (because OMG how danceable is that song?!). How would you succinctly describe to her why you’re the perfect solution to her problems? Go from there.
2. Tell people where to go next
Sure, your navigation (a.k.a. menu bar) plays a big role in this. But your homepage is HUGE when it comes to providing a call to action (CTA) and once someone is on your homepage, what’s on it matters more than your navigation, anyway. What’s your CTA?
Every page should have a primary CTA, not 12, ideally not even 2. Possible CTAs include getting people to sign up for mailing list (for which you may want to have a big feature box for your opt-in form), to book free “discovery” call, or to check out services. It’s all right to have a little extra info to support your CTA, such as social proof a.k.a. a testimonial, just don’t make it something people can click on that’ll take them to someone else’s website.
Superhero tip: Choose a primary CTA for your homepage. It’s okay if you have more than one CTA — like an opt-in in your header that represents a second CTA — but make the bulk of your homepage serve one purpose: assign it a single CTA.
3. Ask why
We’re gonna channel Simon Sinek here, whose fascinating and inspiring TED talk instructs us to “start with why.” I’m gonna encourage you to ask yourself why each item you’ve chosen to include on your homepage needs to be there.
What’s the purpose of having your Pinterest or Instagram feed on your homepage? Maybe it does serve a purpose for you in your particular niche (but it probably doesn’t). Why are you linking to your 15 most recent blog posts? (I understand if you want to link to a few, but be judicious of their placement on the page and the number of posts you wanna share on it.) Etc.
Make sure what you’re including on the homepage helps get people where you want them to go next. If it doesn’t? Find a page that’s better suited to that content.
Superhero tip: As you’re planning your homepage, stop yourself at each section and ask, “Why is this here?” If your homepage already exists, same dealio: go through each section and question what it’s there for and how it’s helping you captivate more ideal clients.
4. Declutter, yo
This point on decluttering is basically “Ask why” part deux but merits having its own section.
Things I usually see on homepages that normally only serve to distract and hence don’t need to be there: social media feeds, social media buttons, a long bio or story about yourself (that goes on your About page, chipmunk), links to a million services (HAI overwhelm!), and copy that serves as a pseudo-sales page.
Superhero tip: Go through your homepage and consider: what here is distracting? And, specifically, if you’ve got any social media stuff, ads, a long bio, a million buttons… pretend it’s spring and you’re cleaning out your closets — gut, gut, gut.
The above four points will take you a long way toward planning a stellar homepage for your website. Share yours below once you’re happy with it!
Need customized help to plan your website? Check out my Rescue Session — we can dig into what you need and figure it out in one hour so you can move forward confidently.
Cuz ain’t nobody got time to spin their wheels in the entrepreneurship world! Action is what brings success. Be deliberate.