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The Anatomy of a Perfect Homepage

Laptop sitting on desk with greenery

Something I address all the time in website audits is the layout, design and content of the site’s homepage. So often (seriously!) — people will ask me, “What makes the perfect homepage?”

Gah. LET’S GET IT, SIS.

Before I even dive in, I usually say some version of this to my client: Think of your homepage as the cover that everyone judges your book by. And the suuuuuuper harsh truth about how long it takes for one of your site visitors to form an opinion on your website?

Just 1/10th of a second. (That’s .05 seconds to be exact!)

And with the average site visitors spending just 15 seconds (or less) on your entire website, the first impression your homepage is or isn’t making matters that much more.

Then I dive into the specifics.

Here’s a quick rundown of the anatomy of the perfect homepage:

The perfect homepage has a clear value proposition.

In the absolute simplest terms possible, a Value Proposition (or Value Prop or VP) is a statement that clearly states who you are (or who your brand is), what you (or your brand) do, who you serve and how you serve them.

A well-crafted Value Prop answers the question, “What’s in it for me?” when a site visitor is browsing your homepage. I always like to say that Value Props nip the whole, “Wait, what do you do?” question in the bud when someone’s on your site.

(My Homepage Knockout checklist gives you all the information you could ever want about Value Props and how to craft them. I even give you my favorite formula to create one on the spot! And the best part? It’s totally FREE! Click here to snag your copy today.)

It has a clear, value-based Call-to-Action (CTA).

A lot of times I’ll see websites with high bounce rates (meaning people “bounce” from the website quickly and frequently) and one of the main elements I see missing from the homepage is a clear Call-to-Action (or CTA).

CTAs are what direct your site visitors to the next step and funnel them further into your site and your sales funnel. 

Whenever I audit a website or do a refresh, I make sure to advise clients to pepper in CTAs wherever they can. Not in that annoying pop-up-click-here-to-make-this-visual-obstruction-go-away type of way — but in a way that appropriately leverages value-based action steps at opportune points of the website.

One of the most common CTAs I recommend for a homepage is an opt-in for a newsletter or email list (think some sort of value-packed freebie that the ideal client or customer drools over — like the Homepage Knockout) or an opportunity to book a free consultation, discovery call, or strategy session.

These are the types of CTA (when written well) that usher site visitors to the next step and keep them interested in what you have to offer.

The perfect homepage has a simple and recognizable navigation menu.

Your navigation menu is that little bar at the top that typically allows site visitors to choose from things like “Home,” “About,” “Blog,” “Book Now,” “Contact,” etc. The temptation with navigation menus is often to make them more cutesy than functional. I see site’s that try to glamorize the navigation menu and make it stand out in some “unique” way — instead of just letting it be at the top of the page.

Hear me say this: Clear beats clever everytime. When it comes to copy and when it comes to design. If you’re finding yourself sacrificing the clarity (or ease of use) of something on your site for the sake of making it unique, cute or clever — press pause really quickly.

And think about your ideal client or customer.

Your navigation menu should be easy for them to find and navigate. It should be recognizable to them and not cause them to think twice or spend even an extra fraction of a second looking for.

When it comes to your navigation menu, follow these three tips:

  • Keep it basic and recognizable.
  • Try and have no more than 7 pages as options for clicks.
  • Avoid dropdown menus — they just tend to overcomplicate things for your end user.

Some other elements to be sure to include on your homepage:

  • Your photo or logo. People connect with people before they connect with brands. If your face is the face of your brand — show it! If not, commit to showcasing your logo to create a visual consistency across all of your brand touchpoints.
  • Benefits instead of features. When you’re writing your homepage, focus on the benefits to your ideal client instead of the actual features, products or services you offer.
  • Your client’ or customer’s “why.”  Tell your ideal client why they should care,  why they should work with you or buy from you and not your competition.
  • Whitespace. Avoid visual clutter by Intentionally building in white space that helps give your site viewer the mental space to take in your site’s information.
  • A smart footer. Include helpful content like links to your most popular posts, a search bar, your social links, another chance to opt-in to your list, etc.

Click here to snag your FREE copy of the Homepage Knockout — a 20-point checklist and step-by-step guide to giving your homepage a total glow up. (Or — drop your email below!)

Website Tips

March 29, 2021

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