With the exception of cloned websites, every website has its own unique characteristics. When building your site there really is no one-size-fits-all pattern to follow. Your site should be built to fulfill your informational and sales needs, while being effective for your target audience. There are, however, certain components that virtually every website should have in order to be effective both with the usability and marketing aspects.
Every website has a home page, even if it’s just a one-page site. The home page is the single most crucial page of a site because it is the page most likely to be viewed, as well as the page most likely to send people away if they don’t like what they see. It doesn’t matter what you have beyond the home page if you can’t get visitors to click past it and into your products or services.
Your home page must accomplish several things:
Establish Your Brand
Your visitor’s need to immediately know where they have landed (who are you), what you do or offer (broad concepts), and you must be able to touch them in such a way that they will be interested enough to click deeper into your site and/or return at a later point.
Show What You’ve Got
Visitors need to quickly be able to find the specific products or services they came looking for in the first place, with a clearly established path to take them to the relevant pages. If you can’t direct them effectively from the home page, you lose them at “Hello.”
If your site is not compelling, all the information in the world won’t get them to click any further. Your copy and layout must generate enough interest and give them the desire to keep digging.
Trust is an important element in the sales process. Your home page is often the first impression your visitors get of you and if you site comes across as a slick salesman selling a used car out of an impound lot, chances are visitors will bolt.
Don’t Give Information Overload
Pace yourself. Don’t try and give too much information on your home page. We know that every additional click a user has to perform causes loss, however putting too much information on a single page simply confuses people. Sometimes forcing them to click is the surest way to establish active interest.
View the first part of “Creating a Marketing Focused Website“.