On an average, 55% of people that come to your home-page are going to exit without exploring further.
The performance of your home page determines how users engage with your company. Companies that require an easier interaction on their home page (say, simply signing up to show their interest) have it easier than others that requires a longer engagement (say, an e-commerce website that wants you to pay $1,000 for an iPhone). That said, you have to put a significant amount of firepower to ensure your home-page stays competitive. Here are five things to look at when optimising your home page.
1. Keep load times to a minimum
It’s naturally frustrating for users to wait for their web pages to load. This is especially true of stores that depend on transactions on their website, e.g., e-commerce, ticketing, and travel websites. There are many things you can do to ensure load times on the home page are low:
- Reduce unnecessary calls to your backend–The more “dynamic” your home page is, the longer it takes to download. For instance, if you are an e-commerce store and you are continuously pulling a list of best-selling products from your backend and displaying them on the home page, it is likely to slow down the home page.
- Reduce the amount of heavy images–If you need to use images, reduce the resolution or the format to keep the size as low as possible. Anything in MBs is not acceptable.
- Use caching of content–If you are pushing static content to the home page, use as much cached content as you can. Even if you’re using database calls to push content to the home page, use cached versions of those images instead of pulling from the database every time.
- Avoid too many external scripts on the home page–If you wish to analyze your traffic, you will want to have Google, Facebook, and a myriad other tracking code on your website. Over time though, remove as many of them as you can and keep only the tracking code that contributes to your decision-making.
Most importantly, continue to test your site speed frequently. Since developers and content managers keep updating the home page, it is essential to track how you’re performing. Use Pingdom or Google Page Speed Insights to test your speed regularly.
2. Use a headline that explains what you do.
You get online one chance to make a first impression. Ensure that you are telling the first-time user what you can help her do. Ensure that your headline is your USP. Add a short description providing an extra level of detail on your USP.
3. Keep your most important call-to-action (CTA) above the fold.
If something is important enough to put on the top of the page, it is important enough to keep it above the fold (i.e., on the section of the screen that the user can view without needing to scroll down). This is especially true of services and SaaS websites, as well as e-commerce websites pushing a specific category to their home page. To help keep the design of these websites up to date, resources that can be found on sites such as https://www.expedition.co/blog/best-saas-websites, can be highly beneficial and aid in keeping a professional image.
Often, companies that deal in transactions that need to be quick put their core transactions above the fold too. Some companies, such as Agoda below, will go a step further and put relevant discount coupons above the fold as well. The reason being is that many consumers are used to going onto an external site like Raise to see if they can find a coupon that applies to their transaction. However, this leaves a chance for them to get distracted from the purchase as these websites often have many other lucrative deals on offer. Agoda therefore reduces the risk of losing the sale by encouraging the user not to navigate off their website.
4. Add social proof.
If you have not yet earned your audience through years of relentless execution, users need to hear a coherent story that gives them confidence to interact on your website. Amazon.com and Alibaba.com may have earned their way into a position where they no longer need to showcase customer experiences but everyone else serious about their business does.
If you are a SaaS company, get feedback from your clients to showcase on the home page. If you have been featured on any reputable magazines, put their mention on the home page.
5. Optimize for mobile.
In 2018, you can’t ignore mobile anymore. Back in 2016, more people accessed the web through mobile than through desktop. Whether you have a one-page website or an e-commerce behemoth, your website (including the home page) must run smoothly on mobile. The pages must be responsive to multiple device sizes and content should not look broken.
Keep in mind the above tips and you can ensure that users spend enough time on your home page and eventually click that CTA. If there are other tips you’ve tried to make your home-page work, let us know in the comments below!