Your homepage is not your site’s lobby
How did you find your current favorite site? I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you clicked through on a link from a friend’s social media update. Or maybe it was a link from an industry blog that you follow?
However you discovered that hot new site you’re telling everyone about right now, I’m just about certain you didn’t get there via the site’s homepage.
Just a few years ago (think, before Twitter), your homepage was essentially a digital lobby for the rest of your site. “Welcome to our place! To your left is the Products page, to the right is the About page, and you’ll find our blog down the hall.”
But with traffic entering your site by way of social media links, your homepage is now more of a transit hub than a lobby.
Visitors are arriving at your homepage after traveling around elsewhere on your site (you are cross linking, right?), and they want to know where to go next. Focus on getting them on their way again rather than trying to give them the grand tour.
Pro Tip: Because you have less control over what your visitor experiences first on your site, it’s more important than ever to have a content strategy in place. If every page reflects the same sense of purpose, you’ll have fewer worries that visitors aren’t getting an accurate message about who you are.
So how do you design for maximum homepage usefulness if it’s no longer the entryway to your site? Keep these tips in mind:
Watch how people are coming and going.
Pay attention to your site’s data. Where are people spending the most time? Make it easy for them to get back there from your homepage in one click.
Relevant information should have its own landing page.
Does your site include pricing info for your business? An explanation of your process? That’s stuff that people might want to pass on to other decision makers about your service. No one wants to tell their buyer, “Scroll about three-quarters of the way down the page for their pricing.”
Stop making people scroll.
If you’re making people scroll instead of click (or tap), you might have too much info on your homepage. Get people off your home page and take them elsewhere. Why? Reread the last paragraph — make it easy for people to share your info.
Update a special interest area routinely.
Even though it’s not the welcoming mat it used to be, your homepage shouldn’t have the chance to feel stale. Consider what aspects of your business change on the regular and provide a space to let newcomers know what’s up. Exciting new project updates? Link to those blog posts.
A chronological display of your latest posts does not belong on your homepage.
If your blog deserves a presence on your homepage (and if you’ve got one, then it does), pick and choose the posts you want new readers to see first. It probably isn’t always your latest one.
Keep your design obvious and uncluttered.
The well-seasoned traveler knows that clear signage is an invaluable element in any transit hub. Visitors need to digest directives quickly to get the information they want the most. Help them on their way to relevant corners of your site with clean design and obvious hierarchy.
Let your demographics know you’re aware of them. All of them.
Represent the unique interests of your target demographic on your homepage. Do you provide design services for musicians? Branding for restaurateurs? Websites for local small businesses? Whoever you’re trying to reach, give them a nod on your homepage with a link to related projects.
Keeping this simple laundry list of tips in mind, you’ll encourage your visitors to explore the farthest reaches of your site. Just use your homepage to show them the way.