Everyone wants to make a good first impression. If you invited a potential client to your office, you’d want them to feel welcome, in the right place, and well-directed from the moment they entered the lobby.
Website homepage introductions follow the same principle.
Build a Recognizable Entrance
When a visitor lands on your company’s homepage, one thing is of most importance: He needs to know that he is in the right place. The logo, headline and first paragraph of a homepage should communicate what the company does in a way that is clear, recognizable and relatable to the site visitor.
If a person thought they were walking into a law office but on entering the lobby only saw signage and information for an accounting firm, they would probably turn around and leave. Translated into website terminology, they “bounced.”
Bounce rate is calculated by the percentage of visitors who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page. That reason alone makes bounce rate one of the primary homepage metrics that matter.
Homepages with low bounce rates indicate that the site’s visitors have viewed multiple pages before closing their browsing window. This indicates that the homepage (lobby) has been effective in directing the site visitor to useful and engaging content. Bounce rates vary by industry, but anything greater than 80% or 90% is generally too high. A 60-70% range is good. And below 50% is great. We recommend reviewing bounce rate data over time before making judgments or website changes.
Basecamp, a web-based project management tool, is a good example of an effective homepage. Basecamp conveys their value proposition in simple language (jargon free!) and in just three sentences: “Working with other people? Struggling to keep everyone on the same page? It’s time to try the Basecamp way.”
Additionally, Basecamp’s branding, or “signage” is clear. Their name and logo is top in the visual hierarchy and the company description addresses a customer’s needs.
If your name or logo doesn’t reflect what you do, maybe it’s time for a refresh. While we’d always recommend starting with brand vectors, once you know your brand, you can engage a site like DesignContest to bring your brand to life.
Don’t Be a Benefits Hog!
It’s tempting to list every single feature and benefit of your business on the homepage. Unfortunately, homepages that speak entirely in benefits drive site visitors away and result in high bounce rates.
Why is that the case?
Benefits do not clearly communicate what the organization actually is, nor why the user should care. People do not like feeling “marketed to.” Websites that slap a cold hard list of benefits, without first addressing the customer and their needs, raise a red flag.
If your site’s visitors do not immediately recognize what your organization is from your homepage, don’t assume that they will stick around to find out. Site visitors need to skim your homepage and know without a shadow of a doubt who you are, what you do, and why they should care.
Remember, the homepage is the lobby, not the whole building. You don’t need to list every detail about your company for visitors as soon as they walk in. For your first impression, focus on clarity, brevity and straightforwardness.
Critique Your Homepage with This Handy Questionnaire:
- From the perspective of a target user, do I know that I am in the right place?
- Who is [your organization’s name], anyway?
- Is this the company I was looking for?
- Can I understand what they are, in terms of my past experience with similar companies?