Believe it or not, the home page of your website will not only be a visitor’s first impression, but could be the only impression. For most website visitors, the only page they will ever see is going to be the home page.
Why is it the only page many users will see?
Most business home pages contain relevant information that search engines may recommend based on a number of factors, however they tend to be presented really poorly or fail to capture the attention of those finding themselves deposited from the digital highway onto a virtual doorstep. Meaning that users find themselves on a lot of websites just by exploring the internet and develop strategies to decipher whether a website is worth exploring to save themselves time.
According to research done by The Harvard Business Journal, the average attention span of an adult in the United State is limited to about 8 seconds. That’s it. Less than 10 seconds to make and keep an impression solid enough for the user to find value worth reaching out for.
Traffic from social media, search engines, referral sources, or other channels will get users to your website, but the information found on it has to capture and keep attention quickly to be effective. Your website may contain relevant information for your desired audience, but users aren’t likely going to comb through the menu and find the right information, unless supremely dedicated to find an answer, and would rather go back to their search query results or another website than dig through your website to find out what they wanted to know.
Simply put, users have become conditioned to find relevant information efficiently and are demanding that the websites they find value in offer up that sweet satisfaction of addressing a need in the fastest time possible. Let’s discuss what 3 questions you need to answer on your home page to make sure your audience sees the value in your website:
1. Who are you?
1. Who are you?
Seems really simple, right? Just displaying the name of the business. the logo, a quick sentence about the mission or goals of the company, and we are done; box checked and we can move on. Well, that’s not necessarily the case.
We must acknowledge that a lot of companies, and web developers or web designers for that matter, take for granted that someone will immediately understand who you are just by reading a name or seeing a logo. This could not be further from the truth. For example, think of the last time you used a search engine, like Google, to explore a subject matter that you were inexperienced with. How many home pages did you find yourself quickly reviewing before jumping back to the search query results to find a website that addressed your question in a manner that you could understand? We have all done it and it isn’t the users’ fault, it’s the fault of the business or website builder that didn’t take that extra step to explain who they are and why their expertise is worth engaging with. This sort of behavior is commonplace and we don’t want our website to fall victim, right?
So, to prevent that experience on our website, let’s take a moment to explain to that new user who we are. Yes, your business’ name and logo should be featured and prominently displayed, but what else can we do to establish who we are on a home page? Depending on the type of business you operate and the kind of behaviors you would like to motivate, there are a plethora of options available. Some examples include:
- Photos of the work the business does in the header (completed jobs, product collage, etc).
- Photos of the team that owns, operates, or functions as representatives of the business (assists with humanizing the business by showing the people behind it).
- Photos or short video of the office, vehicle fleet, work environment, or projects.
By taking the time to explain the who we are, or more importantly, who is behind the business, we can demonstrate to users that we are more than a website, but a business worth patronizing. This not only builds some credibility, but more importantly, it is great at buying us some valuable time to explain what we do.
And this tends to confuse users who are more than likely not aware of the nuances of your industry. They may not understand industry terms, buzzwords, accepted vernacular, or how you position your business.
2. What do you do?
Why should you take the time to explain what you do when it may be self-apparent? The answer comes down to how humans and cultures differ in the sharing of information. No human wants to be the outcast and seek help with less than credible people. They instead need to be reassured that they have stumbled upon the right resource, thus no longer risking the social consequence of being ridiculed for trusting the wrong source. Regardless of how someone finds themself on your web platform, they need to be reassured they are in the right place!
We cannot stress this concept enough. You must assure your visitors that they have found an answer to their problem with your website’s home page. Sometimes, you can accomplish this by sharing a business motto or tagline in the same area as your website header:
- “Plumbing done right”
- “Electricians for busy audiophiles”
- “Family fun that’s a 10 minute drive from downtown Austin”
- “Highest quality CBD with industry-leading service”
- “Pizza so fast you’ll freak”
What is the core problem your business or website can solve? That is what we want quickly share with visitors to ensure they know they have found the right resource.
Regardless of the industry or type of business, we need to take the time to explain to new visitors what we do in order for them to view the rest of the information we have to offer as coming from a credible source. After all, you wouldn’t be reading this blog if we didn’t do the same for our own website.
3. Why should I care?
This is going to ruffle some feathers, but the biggest omission we see from websites we audit is this question. They may have the first 2 questions answered before scrolling down the home page, but very few companies take the time to explain the benefits others have received by agreeing to become a customer.
Instead, a lot of websites jump into all sorts of other things, ignoring that we cannot trust them as credible sources of information, yet. Explaining the benefits of the process or program, displaying or promoting expertise in their field by awards and affiliations, and other tactics can help direct attention or motivate certain behaviors, but simply stating your intended purpose has been the best we have found to ensure those that do reach out are a better fit for the business.
What are some ways you can show visitors that your website is worth exploring further?
- Highlighting testimonials that mention the quality of the service or solution
- Using imagery of real people engaging with the product or service
- Statements of people actually having their problems solved by you
- Stating benefits customers get by doing business with you (note: features are not benefits, benefits are what customers see value in, not you)
The goal should be not just answer the question “why should I care?”, but create an undeniable feeling of being in the right place to your desired audience. Sharing case studies, current or previous customers sharing the value they received, or a quick video of people happily discussing what problems you solved for them are alternative ways to display to your website visitors that you are credible and have answers.
Another way to think about the above questions is by remembering the term Social Proof. We go into more detail on another blog, but social proof is a term coined in the 1980s by Robert Cialdini in the book ‘Influence’ to describe the phenomenon of informational social influence. Meaning people tend to copy or mimic the actions of others in an attempt to not be seen as the outcast.
We are addressing the lack of social proof found on most our competitor’s websites by demonstrating to new users that we have considered them and are addressing their concerns. Said a little differently, we are trying to accomplish what our competitors will not, we are different because we see the whole audience not just the power users or knowledgeable consumers.
By acknowledging that new users could find your platform every day, you can begin to understand the power of these questions and the importance of them.
Have a question about social proof or what your website needs help with?
Feel free to reach out to our team of user experience experts to learn more.