The Home Page

Jessa Brestin

There are two components of a successful home page: Design and Content. Design includes the layout (how things are arranged on the page), colors, graphics, elements, typefaces, and navigation. Design often determines whether or not a visitor deems your website to be professional enough to be worthy of their attention. Once your site passes the automatic and often subconscious ‘design test’, the next important question is whether or not the site is relevant to their interests. That’s where content is crucial.

Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about design—the Control Yours team has you covered there. Also fortunately, the content is entirely up to you, which means that you can tackle it however you’d like. “Oh, well great,” you’re thinking (somewhat sarcastically). “No pressure.”

True, developing content for home pages can be rather difficult. There is a lot more thought that goes into your home page than, say, your “contact us” page. But not to worry—once you’ve given some consideration to what drives your visitors, the words should hopefully come a bit easier.

Your home page is like a greeting. It functions as both an introduction for first-time visitors as well as a “welcome back” to returning guests. Depending on the type of website you have, it may lean more heavily toward one of these two roles. A website created specifically to support a certain cause, for example, will need to spend much more time introducing itself and its goal than, say, an e-commerce site.

There are a few important things to keep in mind when deciding what to include on your home page. Remember that, in most cases, it will be the very first thing brand new visitors will see. It is the beginning of a conversation that will hopefully convince them to stick around and learn more. Ask yourself, apart from making a good first impression, what exactly it is that you want to occur between you and your potential customer.

You might start by defining your target audience. What sort of people are going to be coming to your website? If you are a wedding photographer, you will want to appeal to people who are looking for someone to take high quality, professional photos of their special day. They probably feel like they don’t know anyone who would be willing or capable of doing it for free, and they’re probably hoping to find someone who is talented, cost-effective, and easy to work with.

Once you’ve narrowed down your audience, the next step is figuring out how to appeal to them. Keep in mind that the people viewing your site for the first time most likely know very little about you or your product/service. In fact, it would be safest to act on the assumption that they know nothing at all. “Appealing” to these first-time prospects involves not only telling them why they should want it, but being exceedingly clear in regard to what exactly it is.

Use the best means available to you, and the ones you think will most effectively convey the message you want to communicate. If you are trying to sell shoes, rather than spending a great deal of space discussing how welcoming and helpful your staff members are, you might instead showcase a few of your best products or highlight your current sale items. If, on the other hand, the purpose of your website is to encourage your visitors to contact you and arrange a meeting, the smartest move might be to emphasize the friendliness of your employees.

Remember that you don’t have to tell your visitors everything on your home page. You certainly don’t want them to feel bogged down with information. People who are browsing websites rarely have much patience, so keep things quick and easy to understand.

In conclusion: Use the best of what you have. Keep your audience and purpose in mind. If you get stuck, think about what you might look for in a similar site. You could even explore a few of your favorite sites, or sites similar to yours, for inspiration. And of course, you can always ask the Control Yours team for ideas on what to include. (Needless to say, we’ve got some experience in the area.)

Other tips:
  • Pay attention to the part of your home page that is visible right when you open it. Your visitors are far less likely to read information that they have to scroll down to see, so you should include everything important near the top.
  • Visual art can communicate a lot in very little time and is thus a powerful tool. However, different websites are better suited for different kinds of images. A photographer’s website, for example, will have many more photos than, say, an accountant’s website.
  • Be careful of copyrights when using visual media. If you did not create or take a photo or video yourself, and you have not purchased the rights to it, you might not be legally authorized to use it. If you are ever in doubt about whether or not you can use an image or video on your site, you can always contact the Control Yours team for clarification.