Websites struggle to keep the attention of new visitors due to short attention spans and flashy advertising. In fact, people spend an average of 15 seconds looking at your content before closing the window and looking for something new. That's not a lot of time to make a lasting impression.
It's not an easy task, but with the right strategy, it can be done.
Your homepage is often the first place visitors see when they land on your site, so it should come as no surprise that making it stand out is essential in your battle for their attention.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Let's go over some of the components that make up a great homepage and how you can quickly implement the same strategies. Then watch as your traffic steadily increases before your very eyes.
Make a hero space
Step one is easy enough, make an excellent first impression and grab the reader's attention as soon as their eyes hit your homepage.
You have probably seen it before. You navigate to a new website, and the design seems clean – just a big image and maybe a few words. It doesn't seem like it's selling you anything, but the picture is impactful, and you press on to the rest of the website.
That is called the hero space. It is a big header at the top of a website. Sometimes it's a little smaller, other times, it takes up the whole page for added effect.
In the hero space is usually a hero image. It's not the type of hero you are thinking of. You don't need to invent the Geico gecko to make a successful website. Instead, a hero image is a picture or design that sums up what the brand is all about in an attractive, easy-to-consume media format.
A big impact goes a long way
Take this website, for example. When the page loads, you see a beautiful picture of the beach that takes up the entire page. Then a few words give a general gist of what you can expect as you navigate through the site. And that's the point – the picture is intriguing, and the words are general but specific enough to encourage the visitor to push on.
The advantage of piquing the reader's interest at this early stage is that everything else on the site will be viewed through the positive lens of a good first impression.
Here are some suggestions for choosing an excellent hero image for your website.
Choose pictures that evoke emotion
People are very emotional ー all people. And you can use that shocking news to your advantage. Websites that use emotionally compelling imagery that warm the heart, make the viewer laugh, or feel connected to a cause will understandably entice them to stay on your page.
The image should be your centerpiece
A hero image is a multi-use tool. Meaning that it should have the same effect the fourth time someone visits your site as it did the first. It should be visually engaging and exciting. Check out Apple’s website to see how to do it properly.
Use HD images
Keep your images in high definition. This should go without saying, but no one wants to see your blurry picture of a sunset. Even if you think it's artistic and everyone will love it, chances are, they won't.
Display important information about your product
Once your visitors are officially excited by your website, it's time to show them what they're there for, your goods. No one likes the hard sell, so it pays to make this section tactfully.
Let’s use Apple again to introduce this point.
Their site starts with a hero image, usually an eye-catching picture of their latest product in action. Then as you scroll down, you see more photos of more products. Next to each is some concise copy that sells its top feature accompanied by a 'learn more' button to the side.
The beauty of this design is that it incorporates the same function as the hero image multiple times throughout the homepage. As you scroll down – if you're an Apple fan – your brain is saying, "Cool. Cool. Also cool. Click."
Keep that minimalist attitude in mind when introducing products on your homepage. It isn't the place for in-depth product descriptions. It's the place for your visitors to develop a feeling of intrigue toward your brand and your products. That way, when they click on a link taking them to your product page, the impression they get from your homepage will keep that curiosity ablaze.
To drive home that point, Blue Corona that found 38% of users will leave a website if the content is too long. So make it snappy and engaging.
Make it you
You’re not Apple, so don’t feel like you need to make your website exactly like theirs. By all means, incorporate their strategies or those of other successful companies, but not at the expense of your brand’s identity.
The good thing is that once you know what message you’re trying to convey, you can use the tactics employed by top companies to make a truly unique and exciting website that will generate traffic and revenue.
Create opportunities for email sign up and social following
Unfortunately, all of your visitors will eventually leave your website at some point. That’s why you should create options for them to keep in touch while they’re away.
That doesn't mean writing a sentence at the bottom of the page where no one will see it asking your viewers to give you their email. Instead, it would be best if you let the interest you generate from your images and product introductions inspire them to want to learn more and keep up to date with your brand.
Let your brand speak for itself
Following you on social media or signing up for your email list should feel like a natural response instead of something you are trying to force down their neck. Maybe your products have a story behind them, and by signing up to your email list, visitors will be able to follow along on your journey.
Introduce the value gained from following your brand, and include a link to a signup page.
Offer a discount
Another strategy for persuading website viewers to sign up for your email and social following is to offer a discount for doing so.
Under your products, you might include this information and make it easy to sign up and receive a discount code quickly.
Ready to make an impact?
Your homepage is your first – usually only – opportunity to make an impression on the people visiting your site.
Too many web pages are bland while also trying to make you buy their goods. With the billions of different web pages out there, it's vital to catch people's eyes and build rapport through compelling imagery and soft introductions to your products.
People want to buy a quality product, but they don’t want to be sold to. So design your homepage in a way that speaks to your customers rather than to their wallets. And always keep your brand’s message at the forefront of all the design decisions you make.