Let’s talk about the lies you hear when you see someone getting feedback on a new website design.
You’ve probably seen them too in the Facebook groups you’re a part of:
“It’s nice and clean.”
“The page has lots of whitespace which is good.”
“It’s professional and clean.”
“Nice clean design.”
“I like it.” Ok – what does that actually mean?
And the list goes on.
It’s as if “clean” is about the only thing that people can think of to say that’s nice.
And it’s almost as if they’re searching for something nice to say because it would be rude to tell you that it looks like crap.
Rarely do you see comments about “what a great headline”, or “loved your call-to-action and I opted in to your list”.
People get stuck on trying to say something nice.
So what goes into making a homepage that’s actually designed well, and achieves its purpose?
So while you’re slaving away trying to imitate the design you love that [insert influencer’s name here] uses on your own website, you are completely missing what you should actually be focusing on.
On every new web project I create I use a repeatable set of action-steps to cover all the basics and make sure I get everything covered that ensures a fantastic launch. Today I’m going to cover one of them that’s most vital when it comes to designing a killer homepage for the project.
So, let’s jump in and talk about a couple things you can do for your homepage and why is critical to get it right.
Use Great design to communicate and look great at the same time
When you’re trying to figure out how to design a homepage it’s important to know that effective homepage design is where art, science, and strategy all come together to create a fantastic resource.
The best homepages are those that are concise and clear because they don’t bloat the page with stuff that doesn’t fit clearly within the overall priorities for the page.
That bears repeating:
Don’t bloat your homepage.
One of the problems I see with homepage design is trying to do too much. Too many people have too many opinions and it can get crazy.
Too often I’ve worked on projects where too many people are too involved in the design. I’ve seen committees evaluate a homepage design and each member point out how their particular opinion needs to be represented and it ends up being a mash-up of a bunch of stuff that doesn’t have any real rhyme or reason and the end result is that no one on the committee ends up liking it like that!
Your homepage design should be very deliberate and orderly with a very clear flow from one section to the next, arranged by the priorities you have for your homepage that’s aligned with your business goals and your ideal customer personas, in a logical order.
Whew! That was one long sentence, but it’s true.
If you fail at that then your homepage will sink into the rest of the poorly-thought-out and poorly designed homepages on the internet that are losing visitors and conversion opportunities costing you money.
Another huge problem I see a lot really bad images being used.
This is crazy:
I saw a homepage recently for a medical office that showed a picture of a strip mall and a Subway sandwich shop was prominently featured front and center! The office for that provider resides in that same location as the Subway shop, but because of the angle at which the shot was taken Subway was front and center.
That’s not what you do.
Unless you’re really good with grabbing fantastic images from your iPhone don’t use the shots that you just happened to snap when you saw you needed an image.
You only have seconds to communicate and capture interest, and you’re going to use a photo with a Subway franchise?
Talk about sending the wrong message.
According to research conducted by 3M our brain decodes visual information 60,000 times faster than text. That means that as soon as your homepage has loaded in the visitor’s browser they’re immediately starting to consume the story you’re telling with the way you present your site visually before reading any of the text.
Great homepage design uses images in a strategic and tactful way.
Choose images that show what it’s like to use your product or service and the advantages and benefits you deliver. You’re telling a story with your homepage and you need those visuals to be a key component of that story.
The best option is to hire a photographer to do a shoot for you. That way, you get really high-quality images that are specific to your business that you can use in a variety of ways.
When it comes to telling your story visually with stock photography, be thoughtful on your choices. There is a lot of bad stock photography out there so take your time and find good representative images.
Make sure your images and text work well together
You don’t want to confuse your visitors by just throwing text on an image, and because there is not enough contrast, the text is hard to read.
Or the image is too busy.
Or text is covering a person’s face.
Or the subject in the image doesn’t match up well with the text placement.
I’ve seen all these mistakes happen on real websites.
And definitely, do not use Photoshop (or whatever other image processing app you use) to add text to an image.
That’s a huge mistake.
That text isn’t indexable by search engines and people who use assistive devices like screen readers can’t read it.
It just looks bad and won’t scale properly.
Make your call to action super clear
Your calls to action are established by your priorities so you want to make sure that they’re super clear.
It should go without saying that they need to look great, so you want to be strategic about the copy you use on your buttons.
Build great, clear calls to action. Make sure the action is clear and to the point and concise, and use words that will resonate with your audience. You may need to split test and rework them to find the right copy to use, but it will be worth the effort.
This post from Neil Patel is a great resource for some more tips on creating a great call to action.
I’ve got seven primary strategies and steps I use to build out new website projects, from big sites with custom post types, custom fields and fully bespoke custom themes, to small sites and personal blogs.
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