Remind me: How many chances do you get to make a good impression? Oh, that’s right. One. Just one.
If you don’t have the best homepage possible, that first impression becomes negative for website visitors. You lose that first impression forever.
Will the visitor come back? Maybe. But you’re playing with fire.
There aren’t any new statistics on web design aesthetics and first impressions, but an older study demonstrated that 94 percent of people’s first impressions of a business were related to web design. That’s pretty illustrative.
If you have a beautiful, functional, easily navigable homepage, you’re more likely to retain visitors and convince them to come back for more.
Without one, you’re practically shooing visitors away. And that’s bad for business.
4 Reasons Why You Need a Good Homepage
Creating the best homepage for your business can pay off big time, especially if most of your visitors land on the homepage first. A consumer tells a friend to look up Company XYZ — that’s you — so the friend types “Company XYZ” in Google’s search box.
Your homepage pops up first.
But why exactly do homepages matter so much?
1. The homepage makes the brand stronger
Think of your homepage as the front of your home. It’s the curb appeal. If you have dingy paint, overgrown shrubs, lots of weeds in the yard, and a cracked driveway, people will form a negative first impression.
But what if you repainted the house, re-sodded the yard, cleaned up the beds, and added a couple tasteful yard ornaments? Suddenly, first impressions become far more positive.
You’re strengthening your brand before anyone ever steps inside your “house.” They’ve already formed an opinion of what to expect of your “home.”
The homepage you create for your business should reflect every aspect of your brand, from the color palette and logo to the words on the page.
2. Your homepage presents your offer and value
Your homepage provides your website’s “curb appeal,” but it also hints at what’s inside. What will visitors get when they dig deeper into the site?
If your value proposition remains front-and-center, visitors will immediately understand what you offer. Do you solve problems with a product or service? If so, state them clearly. Give visitors a reason to poke around and learn more about your business.
The Quicksprout homepage provides a clear example of this. It tells visitors exactly what the company will help them accomplish, then backs up that claim in the CTA for the form.
Notice that it’s clean, appealing, and consistent. There’s nothing to distract the reader from the core message.
3. The homepage can attract and capture visitors
Ideally, your homepage will help ease your visitors into the rest of your website. You want them clicking on links, filling out forms, and checking out your blog.
There’s a brief introduction to the business, photographs and bios of experts, and a list of subscription services.
When you roll out the welcome mat, you let visitors know you value their presence on your website and that you want them to stick around. The best homepages don’t toss out any obstacles to prevent exploration.
4. Businesses often use homepages as landing pages
At one time, landing pages and homepages were entirely separate entities. Today, their lines have become blurred.
A landing page has one goal: Convert visitors. Homepages often have the same goal.
If you want your homepage to serve simultaneously as a landing page, you have to remove distractions — at least above the fold.
That’s what we did with Neil Patel Digital.
There are navigation links, but they’re less obtrusive than the headline and call to action.
3 Real Homepage Examples and Why They Work
Now that I’ve covered the basics of why you need the best homepage possible, let’s look at some examples that work extremely well. Don’t copy other people’s designs, but let them inspire you to improve your homepage and make it more efficient.
The Copyblogger website uses the hero image approach to homepage design — and it works beautifully. The site is clean and minimalist, using light colors and an image that’s simultaneously inviting and unobtrusive.
You get everything you expect from a homepage, from the logo and tagline to the navigation bar at the top. There’s also the value proposition on top of the hero image, which helps cement the company’s value.
Why it works
Hero image homepages work well when you’re selling a single value proposition. It’s not ideal for e-commerce homepages — unless you sell just one product — but it’s perfect for service businesses that have a core or flagship service they provide.
Humans respond well to visual imagery. In fact, nearly 60 percent of customers surveyed in one study said they would rather engage with a beautifully designed web page than one that was simply designed. Consumers are judging your business based on homepage aesthetics.
Anyone who knows me will tell you I hate to drive. I’m always calling Ubers to pick me up.
I’m also a big fan of its websites. It offers one of the best homepage designs I’ve seen in a long time.
It’s a great example of seamlessly combining two value propositions: Get a safe, inexpensive ride or become a driver and make money.
That’s no easy feat, especially with so few words on the page.
Why it works
If you look at each individual element on Uber’s homepage, you’ll notice that it’s all designed to funnel website visitors toward one action or another. They want you to sign up for an account so you can order Uber rides or sign up as a driver and earn cash.
Those are two entirely different segments of the market. Yet it somehow works.
Notice the image choice. The guy behind the wheel is clearly an Uber driver, but he’s staring right at the camera — at you. If you wanted to order an Uber, he’s someone you’d feel comfortable getting in the car with. Or, if you wanted a part-time hustle, he’s someone whose success you’d want to emulate.
The rest of the homepage provides tons more information, from a map and quoting form for getting from one place to another to blurbs about the company’s value proposition.
3. Rosetta Stone
If you’re not familiar with Rosetta Stone, it’s a suite of tools designed to help you learn a foreign language. It’s on the high end of the pricing spectrum, but it’s still hugely popular.
Also, it’s one of the best homepage examples I’ve seen for an e-commerce site.
We’re dealing with a hero image again, this time of a worldly traveler who’s using his phone — ostensibly to access the Rosetta Stone app.
Why it works
Rosetta Stone leads with its primary USP: TruAccent technology. The value-added benefits of the technology set it apart from its competitors and make it seem more effective at helping people learn language skills.
Then you have another value proposition: The company has been in operation for 25 years. There’s also social proof: “The most trusted language solution…”
Rosetta Stone might benefit from some hard numbers here. How many customers does it serve? That might be more impressive. But it’s the only fault I find in its homepage.
This homepage does an excellent job of capturing the visitor’s attention and providing plenty of places to explore without distracting the visitor from the primary CTA.
Homepage Optimization Checklist
You’ve seen three real-life examples of some of the best homepage designs on the Internet, but what can you take away from them? And how do you design the best homepage for your business?
Believe it or not, homepage design boils down to five simple elements. You have lots of room to play with creativity, but make sure you’re presenting your offer clearly and without distraction.
Here’s a handy checklist of things to include on your own homepage to improve it and boost conversions.
1. Write a strong and clear headline
Each of the three examples I mentioned above has a clear, specific headline to anchor the page. Let’s look at each headline here:
- Build Your Online Authority With Powerfully Effective Content Marketing
- Get There — Your Day Belongs to You
- The only language software with TruAccent™ — the world’s best speech recognition technology.
They’re obviously very different, but they have several things in common.
First, they use power words. These are words that immediately evoke an emotion or connect with the reader.
Copyblogger focuses on words like “authority” and “powerfully effective.” They’re not impressive on their own, but when built into a concise headline, they help send a stronger message.
Uber takes a more emotive approach. Instead of stating its value proposition outright, Uber appeals to what their target customers want: freedom, efficiency, and a destination.
Then you have Rosetta Stone, which uses words like “only” and “world’s best” to convey credibility and authority. Those words imply that Rosetta Stone is all you need to accomplish your goals.
Write strong headlines by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. What would impress him or her? What would connect with that person enough to convince him or her to explore the rest of your site? Or to fill out a form?
2. Don’t confuse your users
One of the most common issues I notice on homepages is conflicting CTAs. It’s okay to have more than one option, but you need a dominant CTA — one that shows exactly what you want the visitor to do.
More importantly, you want to avoid visual clutter. Just like you pick up toys, clothes, scattered magazines, and other detritus at home, you want to remove any confusing visual elements from your homepage.
In other words, keep it simple.
You want enough on the page to attract attention, but not so much that readers don’t know where to look.
3. Add a direct and big CTA button for the offer
Your CTA is where you want your visitors to focus their attention. It’s an invitation: Here’s what to do next!
The CTA button shouldn’t take over your entire screen, but it should get the visitor’s attention. Consider using a unique font if you don’t think it’s captivating enough.
Additionally, make sure you use a call-to-action phrase that makes sense and conveys value. A CTA like “Subscribe Now” doesn’t thrill me. Change it to: Subscribe Now to Get a Free Case Study.” Now I’m interested.
Avoid conflicting CTAs as much as possible. You can have more than one option, but make clear that there’s a single CTA you want your visitors to follow through on specifically. You can see how both Uber and Rosetta Stone did this in the examples above by making the alternate CTAs smaller and less obvious.
4. Use contrasting colors
I’m a big fan of contrast when it comes to my sites. You’ll see my signature orange color on NeilPatel.com and Neil Patel Digital.
Contrast doesn’t just mean a loud or obnoxious color. You can create contrast in numerous ways.
For instance, a bold color for the background and a neutral color for the text on a CTA will work well. You don’t want lime green on electric blue — that’s hard on the eyes.
In a CTA, you can also use a color that isn’t found elsewhere on the page. Just make sure it doesn’t strike too much visual discord. Learning the color wheel and how colors complement one another will make you a better designer.
5. Keep the offer above the fold
Your website visitors might never scroll beyond the fold. That’s just fact. If you bury your offer underneath the fold, many of your visitors will never see it.
As you can see from the best homepage examples I mentioned above, every one includes the offer or USP above the fold. It’s obvious from the moment the visitor arrives.
How to Find Out What’s Working and What’s Not on Your Homepage
Web design is extremely subjective. I might love a site’s design, while you might hate it. There’s no way to please everyone.
However, you can please most of the people who visit your site. How? You figure out what’s working and what’s not.
Crazy Egg lets you run user behavior reports on your site. You’ll see where people click, scroll, and otherwise engage with elements of your site.
A heatmap, for instance, provides you with tons of data. Consider looking at your confetti report. It shows you granular information about referral sites and how people who come from different places engage with your site.
Plus, you’ll see who bounces and who stays so you can adjust your homepage accordingly.
Do people tend to skip over your CTA when they come from Facebook? Maybe your Facebook posts aren’t aligning with the design of your site.
Other user behavior reports allow you to view this data in different ways. For instance, a standard heatmap shows areas of “hot” activity and “cold” inactivity. Positioning your homepage elements to align with eye tracking can make it more effective.
After you collect this information, create two versions of your website. Present one version to half your visitors and the other to the remainder. This process of A/B testing individual elements will help you refine your site so it’s ideal for your target audience.
Your homepage is often the first thing a new prospective customer sees when encountering your brand. You want to make the best possible first impression, right?
That demands the best homepage for your audience.
As you can see from the examples I mentioned above, there can be lots of variation. Colors, imagery, and layouts change, but the simple elements don’t.
What works on the best homepage designs?
If you can incorporate those elements into your homepage, you’ll find yourself ahead of the competition.
But there’s more.
How do you know that the colors, fonts, visuals, and copywriting you selected will work on your specific audience? You don’t. At least, not until you test.
Use Crazy Egg’s user behavior reports to spy on your visitors. Figure out what works, what doesn’t, and what you should test for the future.
The more attention you pay to your homepage, the more effective the homepage becomes at attracting and retaining your visitors.