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How To Create a Home Page That Connects With Customers: 3 Guidelines

Posted by Christine B. Whittemore on Sep 27, 2012 9:45:00 AM

This is a 3 minute read.
Home Sweet Home

Although digital visitors often come across our website via a back door - i.e., blog articles, landing pages, specific web pages - the Home Page makes a strong statement about who and what we are. Somewhat similar to the front door of a home or the front entrance of a business. Whether a visitor experiences it first or later, it's worth having a home page that connects with customers.

How, then, to create a home page that connects with customers?

At Inbound 2012 [see What's New from INBOUND 12: HubSpot 3, Inbound Marketing Wisdom], I couldn't wait to hear Josh Porter, director of UX at HubSpot, discuss How to Create a Worldclass Marketing Home Page.

I came to the presentation interested in home pages based on previous conversations [see Website Evaluations: The Home Page on TalkFloor: Part 3], as well as my own home page redesign project. [More on that later :)...] Josh's recommendations were simple and insightful.

Here are 3 guidelines for creating home pages that connect with customers from Josh's presentation:

1. Home Pages Make Promises to Customers

The home page on a website should make a promise to your customers about how their lives will be better. You should explain how your business offers value to your site visitors. Shocklingly, 95% of homepages fail to deliver a compelling promise.

The most effective means for communicating promises is via headlines. They are crucial, and should attract visitors' attention [5x more people read headlines rather than body copy to determine if the content and site are worth investing more time in]. Be sure to make your home page easy to scan. 

Josh explained how to test headlines. 

2. Home Pages Deliver Details to Customers

That's right! A Home Page that connects with customers should deliver details. After all, people do read and they will scroll below the fold - assuming you make a compelling case for improving their lives.

You want to provide sufficient details so visitors to your home page start to ask questions about next steps.

Think of your home page as a library information desk where the librarian directs you in the right direction for your information quest.

Structure the details on the home page as you would a newspaper story: with the most newsworthy stuff first [who what when where why], then the important details, and the background information last. The format works because it honors people’s precious time.

The more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be. [Ogilvy]

Have you heard of the Apple Paradox? Everyone wants to be like Apple, but no one does what Apple does. Were you aware that Apple's home page is very long [8,537 pixels] with many details [e.g., iPad home page]. Visitors read every single word because they are interested; Apple is answering their questions. Apple isn't concerned with only having content above the fold. 

  • People DO scroll!
  • People scan on the web until they find something interesting, then they read.
  • You do need to have something interesting above the fold.
  • If your promise resonates and your provide depth of detail, people will gladly read every word you write.

3. Offer Visitors to Your Home Page Appropriate CTAs [Calls to Action]

This conversation was particularly interesting because it drew attention to the conflict between what businesses want from home page visitors vs. what visitors want from the same experience. There are two ways to prioritize CTAs: by business need or by customer need.

A business need focuses on what the business wants people to do first. For example,

  1. Sign up for demo
  2. Sign up for free trial
  3. Download a whitepaper
  4. View a pricing page
  5. View product pages

A customer need focuses on what visitors want to do first. For example,

  1. View product pages
  2. View a pricing page
  3. Download a whitepaper
  4. Sign up for free trial
  5. Sign up for a demo

[Notice how the order is reversed in the customer need.]

Wow!

What do you consider most important in creating a home page that connects with customers? Have you come across great examples? Please let us know in the comments.

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Topics: Digital Marketing, website redesign

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