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Tips for designing an effective homepage

Your homepage is like your handshake. It is the first thing visitor’s to your website see, and it is often the single most decisive factor in influencing whether or not they will hang around for any length of time. If you want to create a home page worthy of rock star status that keeps customers coming back for more, follow these five basic tips.

Know your goals

Since your homepage is your introduction, not having something planned in advance is cyber-suicide. Think about what you want your homepage to say to your visitors. Outline your goals and draft several different designs for your homepage until you find the perfect one. Don’t be afraid to play with your design. Remember, it’s only code after all.

Your homepage is an entry point

Your homepage is the entry point to the rest of your site. It doesn’t have to be identical to your other pages, but it should share some similarities. If your site is content based, make sure your home page has some content on it. If your website is geared toward sales, prominently display your highlighted wares on your homepage. Use your homepage as a hook to get your customers to pull up a chair and stay awhile.

Bright, shiny things

Don’t be afraid to use color on your homepage. Employ bold, bright colors on submit buttons or links you want to convince your customer base to click. Use color on your homepage like an artist uses a paintbrush to cover a canvas.

Lead capture

Your homepage is the ideal spot to help you capture lead information. Some homepage designs will offer a free e-book or service in exchange for users signing up for a newsletter or a free membership. Others go for an approach inviting the user to create a free account, but making sure that the user knows they have to have an account to access the cool features beyond the homepages. Users have to feel as if there is something in it for them if they are going to consider letting you have any contact information at all.

Optimize your graphics

One of the most notable things to remember about homepage graphics is that they can’t be too flashy, intense or in your face. Not because you shouldn’t want your homepage to be beautiful are artistic, but because it will affect your webpage load time. If your page takes too long to load, viewers will lose interest and move on to the next bright, shiny thing. Make sure your graphics are optimized for fast load times and test them in a variety of different Internet browsers.

Indeed, your homepage is your handshake. Make it a pleasant one.

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