For most websites, the home page is the most popular landing page, the most popular page, and the only page a lot of visitors see. And yet visitors may give your website only 4-12 seconds before they decide whether to stay or leave. Your homepage has to stand up and say, “Hi!”
The example here, the home page for the Puerto Rico report, is visually arresting, but it also tells you right away what the website is about. If you’re interested in Puerto Rico’s status referendum, you’re in the right place — indeed, the best possible place on the web. Looking for cheap flights to Puerto Rico? You’re in the wrong place.
Your website’s homepage should be just that clear. If your visitors can’t tell instantly that they’re in the right place, they’ll leave. Then it won’t matter at all how great your website is. (Think you’re an exception to this rule? Read about exceptions to the rule.)
For many of your visitors, the experience of your home page begins on the search engine results page, before they click through. Make sure that your meta description gives a clear statement of what your site is about so searchers can recognize you immediately.
A clear description means that your visitors will have more information when they click through, and may not be as quick to leave.
Still, the way people interact with a website is very different from the way they interact with your company in the physical world. Typically, a visitor will have a question in mind when they arrive at your website: do you sell the ingredient they’re looking for, do you take their insurance, are you a wonderful place to hold the conference they’re planning — they’re not coming with a mind open to the myriad possibilities of your company.
They want what they want when they want it.
Dr. Myshka’s website makes it clear immediately that he’s a chiropractor in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The photos of the doctor, the consulting room, and the staff by the building make it clear at a glance that this is an established practice, and the prospective patient can decide instantly whether he or she likes the place. Contact and social media information is readily available, and there is an easy path to lots more information.
Publisher More of the King has a design that sets the tone, a clear statement of their purpose and offerings, and a shopping cart that lets a visitor start shopping right away. The visitor can immediately see testimonials and reviews of the materials, too.
Look at your homepage. Can visitors tell immediately what you have to offer and how they can get it? If not, put that on your list of website improvements you should make as soon as possible.