Not getting the results you want from your digital marketing efforts? You may have the SEO foundation in place to drive traffic to your website, but from there, you have around 10 seconds to catch visitors' attention before they wander away.
If your homepage isn't converting, you may be considering a complete website redesign. After all, the goal of your homepage is to direct people to other pages of your site where they can learn more about you, explore your products or services and eventually make a purchase.
If your homepage isn’t accomplishing that, people may never see the hard work behind your site’s other key pages.
I’m here to tell you what I’ve learned are the most important conversion factors for your homepage—and why they’re my priorities when investigating a homepage’s conversion rate.
So let’s get into it. What should be on a homepage, anyway? Here are my best practices for homepage design.
Table of Contents
- Tell people what your business does right away
- Be explicit about what differentiates you from your competitors
- Guide visitors through the funnel instead of leaving their journey to chance
- Explain complex business offerings by telling a story
- Address the needs of your specific audience
- Finish with a strong, relevant call-to-action (CTA)
1. Tell People What You Do Right Away
Think about how many times you’ve navigated to a new website, couldn’t figure out what the company did and went back to browsing social media only to forget the brand ever existed. You’d be surprised how often companies fail to state what they do or sell clearly.
In a homepage redesign, people often miss the “what we do” factor—especially designers who don't adopt the digital marketing mindset. To design a home page that converts, you must have a firm grasp of your company’s purpose.
Check out Very Well Health, for example. Their website’s homepage is clearly a resource for health news and information. Yet, they still clearly state their purpose (and make a case for their credibility) in a prominent, easy-to-read banner:
2. Be Explicit About Your Differentiators
If you're a service-based company, the main statement on your homepage should reveal what you do and what makes you stand out.
To put this idea in context, here’s an example. When redesigning a homepage for one Microsoft service provider, the initial banner text read:
A client’s banner text before redesign
Of course, the keyword phrase “Microsoft Consulting Services” is great for SEO and gives a high-level overview of what the company does. But there are hundreds of companies just like it out there, and competition is fierce.
For your homepage redesign, it’s essential to ask: Can your potential customer quickly understand the problem you solve and how you differ from others on the market? For this client, we saw a clear gap. Words like "adaptive, responsive and strategic" do little to differentiate the brand.
The banner text also didn't relay the company's distinct differentiator. While many service providers began on-premises, this MSP originated in the cloud—unlike most others that only recently made the move.
So while cloud migration is the company's most popular service, the client also wanted to promote its cloud-managed services. To capture this, we came up with a more streamlined look and message:
Redesigned banner with clear messaging about a top-priority service and CTA
We didn’t bury the cloud focus but instead put it front-and-center to appeal to the ideal client: companies fully invested in leveraging the cloud.
3. Add Signals to Guide Visitors Through the Funnel
You now have a clear statement. Great! Next, you must outline the action or next step new visitors should take to begin your web funnel.
Is your product a bit technical? Does it require further explanation before your audience is ready to purchase? Point people to a demo to provide a quick-and-dirty overview.
Or, are people coming to your site searching for a particular product? Direct them to the specific product page in your call-to-action to save them time. Most importantly, use precise action verbs that clearly explain what will happen by clicking the button.
Other examples include:
- Shop Now
- Download Trial
- Chat with us!
Look at how this baby formula company guides prospective buyers from their homepage to the “Science” page—where they can learn about organic formula and its ingredients—to the “Shop” page.
As a baby formula company, Bobbie knows that parents have questions about what is in their child’s food. So right on their homepage is a CTA to look into Bobbie’s ingredients.
The “Our Ingredients” button on Bobbie’s homepage clearly points to a page where parents can learn more about the ingredients in their formula. Clicking here takes visitors to the “Science” page.
From the “Science” page, users can take a deep dive into all of the formula’s ingredients. If this isn’t enough to convert, users have the option to see studies involving organic baby formula. If they’re convinced, the “Shop Bobbie” button is still clear and present at the top of this page.
Keeping the “Shop Bobbie” button prominent and in plain view allows visitors to start shopping as soon as they have enough information about the product.
4. Explain Complex Services By Telling a Story
Most companies don’t just sell a couple of products. So what should you do if your offering is too complex to communicate in a few words?
If you're a service-based company embarking on a website redesign, try to break up your offering into a logical story.
For the Microsoft service provider mentioned above, we broke down the client’s complex services into three phases of cloud adoption, including:
- Getting started with the cloud through an Office 365 migration
- Optimizing your cloud environment by transferring data centers to the cloud
- Managing and protecting your cloud-based IT infrastructure
Distinguishing the cloud migration and adoption phases helps visitors figure out where they fall in the process and which services align with their needs. However, this logic may not make sense for your products or services. The main takeaway: Organize the product messaging and visuals in a way that’s easy for readers to scan and digest.
5. Address the Needs of Your Specific Audience
Your products are intended to help a particular audience. Therefore, your homepage should address the problems this specific segment faces. Doing things this way enables you to resonate with site visitors right off the bat.
Sure, some sites will address user needs first. But in many cases, it makes sense to give people an idea of who you are and what you do before trying to win them over. This is especially relevant to companies that need to establish trust before earning someone’s business (i.e., cybersecurity providers, banks, health organizations, etc.).
You accomplish this in part with good content that speaks to pain points and establishes your credibility, but design plays a huge role in this too.
Take this Catholic pilgrimage travel website, for example. Its primary audience is generally between the ages of 35 and 65. With an older audience, they wanted a site that was easy to navigate and free of clutter and distractions.
This is what their website looked like initially:
Before the homepage redesign
This is how we redesigned their homepage to meet the needs of their primary audience. Note the clear explanation of what the business does and the CTAs intended to guide visitors to learn more or book a tour, not to mention the inclusion of more eye-catching visuals:
After the homepage redesign
6. Finish With a Strong, Relevant Call-To-Action
If readers make it to the end of your homepage, they’re probably interested in what you have to offer. So it only makes sense to give them another opportunity to act or engage. You can use the same CTA text at the top of the page or change it up with a brief form, whitepaper or chance to opt-in to your newsletter.
Pro tip: This is also a great way to capture a user’s email.
These are just a few important considerations to make in your homepage redesign. If you need further guidance, read more about our website design and development services. Or, if you're ready to discuss your project goals, schedule a free consultation with us!