Home Page Essentials - Miss These and You're Missing the Mark
The home page (also known as "index" or "default" page) is usually the first thing
people see upon entering your site. If it doesn't grab them - or contain certain
information - many people won't venture past it ... and might just leave your site
altogether. As my Mom used to say, "You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a Good
Impression." This rings even more true when it comes to your website's home page.
So what are the essential components that every home page really needs to include?
And why are they so important? Keep reading and you'll know in a flash (no pun
intended) whether your site is hitting the mark or missing it altogether.
1) Your First Paragraph: I can't tell you the number of sites I've been to that don't
tell me who they are and what they do. Remember the "Five W's" when writing about
your company - Who, What, Where, Why and How. Tell me up front who you are and what
you offer so I know if I'm in the right place or need to continue my search.
A good rule of thumb when creating your site content is to look at your site from a
surfer's point of view and answer this question: "What's in it for me?" Website
visitors tend to be very directed. They land on your site after searching for
something they need and don't care about anything else. If you want your visitors to
stay, you need to tell them right away that they've come to the right place.
2) Consistent Navigation: You need to decide on a navigational system. This is
generally at the top or left hand side of the page with links to every page or
section of your site. Make it clear and simple for me to get where I need to go and
don't confuse me or cause me to think too hard about it. This can lead to frustration
and an early exit.
You'll also want to include text navigation at the bottom of the page (sometimes
called secondary navigation). Another option would be to include one of those drop
down navigation boxes that allows you to make a selection from a drop down box and be
transported instantly to that page.
3) Recommend to a Friend: You don't want to forget this viral marketing technique.
Add a "click here to recommend this site to a friend" somewhere on the page. This can
be done easily with a CGI script or there are a number of free services online like
4) Subscribe to Our Ezine: You'll also want to include a chance to subscribe to your
ezine on this page. It's very important to your marketing efforts that you start
collecting a list of opt in subscribers who are giving you permission to contact them
at a future date.
Most people will not buy from your site on the first visit so you'll want to get
those email addresses for the possibility of a future sale. Mail lists can be
maintained with stand-alone software or your web host may provide this service for
you, you'll need to ask. The easiest way to implement one is to use one of the free
list services like Yahoo eGroups or
or Topica. Make sure you include an easy sign up
form somewhere on your site - the topright hand corner will get you the best attention.
5) Search Function: If your site is rather large you may want to include a search
function. This gives people the opportunity to find just what they're looking for
quickly. Search can be implemented with a CGI script. You'll also find plenty of free
search functions available online at third party sites like
6) What not to Include: Things like long Flash intros, tons of pop up boxes and music,
all which can serve to annoy your guests - causing them to reach for the exit button.
If you feel the need to use a pop up box (which have proven to be effective for
actions like reminding visitors to subscribe to a newsletter), use the type that only
pops up upon exit. It's less obtrusive and doesn't hamper the web surfer when he or
she first enters your site.
So how many of these strategies have you implemented on your home page? Remember,
some people will never make it past the entrance to your site, but by incorporating
the above essential elements into your page you'll increase the chances of a happier
surfing experience for your guest and a more effective website for you.
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