Your homepage it is the most important page of your site. Ideally you should have 2-3 paragraph to explain what this site about to your visitors. The paragraphs should not be less than a minimum of 600-1000 words. Small business owner websites or portfolio sites tend to ignore the importance of the homepage.
Often I see people like to put one or two short paragraphs, mostly saying “welcome to my website” a cliche sentence with a few photos.
This is a wrong approach to take, if you want your website to be found on major search engines, as well as attracting more visitors.
Displaying large photos or videos on the homepage will not bring more visitors. On the contrary it will make your website load slowly. Your focus should be your written content not displaying bunch of photos. Unless you are a photographer, or some artist who has rich photographic portfolio.
In the homepage you should tell your visitors what is this website about, what they should expect. It should be different than about us or your portfolio page. Do not forget you are trying two achieve two things from your homepage :
1. Attract more visitors, provide good information about what this site about to your potential visitors/clients/customers.
2. Using rich content with good keywords for search engines, so robots, spiders can easily access to your site.
When search engines crawling into your website the first thing they will see is your homepage. If you have a rich content on your homepage, your website will have better chance get higher ranking.
Pay attentions those key points:
Your homepage should answer these questions:
- What is this website about?
- Who are you? Your web presence or yourself or your company, be brief, tell who you are.
- What do you do? Are you selling or providing service, or even introducing yourself, or your telling an idea to the web? Focus on your goal for the site.
- Why makes you different than other companies, ideas, services?
What to do?
- Having a good introduction article at least 3 paragraphs long
- Displaying a few small size photo with title, captions and alt tags properly written
- Having an introduction that summarize your site’s goal
- Setting expectations to your visitors from your website, such as if you are providing a service, clarify what you are offering
- Try to make a good first impression, a well written short article can be a good start
- Using good original images as small sizes; such as 300px by 250px when you click open larger version of the photo.
- Using soft colors in harmony, aesthetically pleasing colors always leave good impressions
- Using large, clear bold headlines ( your slogan, your famous quote, description of a service, tagline , separating the sections of your article helps to visitor read your page easily
- Displaying your location, phone number on the page, making clear contact information on the page, helps to visitor contact with you
- If you have a large website with lots of pages, or a blog site, make sure you have a search form in the page, accessible to your visitors
- If you have lots of pages then provide your visitors a site map that includes all your pages, and site map link/tab should be easy to see on the homepage
- Being specific, using clear language that describe what this site about is will bring more human visitors ( search engine spiders, robots count as non-human visitors)
- Having a short, clear descriptive introduction that uses good keywords that related to the site
- Simple, easy to navigation buttons will help visitors find their way on your site
- Showing your real identification and your location will help people to trust the site
- Share your social network connection; Google Plus, Linkedin, Facebook Page, so on.
- Show your awards, success to your visitors without bragging about it.
- Obey grammer rules. Run on sentences will look very bad on a professional website. Spell check is your best buddy, use it on every page.
- Internet has also it’s own rules, do not try to change it. Such as if you underline a word, it means a link, if it not a link, do not underline it.
- Using small, fast loading seamless pattern as site background, and white page with clear reading fonts will make most visitors happy.
- Using a common web font on your page, it will be easier to read for your visitors
- Your original content will attract return visitors for your site
- Try to emphasize your web an identity. Perhaps with a logo, slogan, tagline, repeat that on your other pages.
What NOT to do
- Having a very long content that keeps scrolling on the page ( remember most people scan the page more than reading long articles), so keep it short and to the point
- Using generic introduction that does not convey what this website about
- Displaying large images
- Using common stock images that easily identified as stock photo
- Using a lot of gif animations, having one smily face is one thing, displaying all your animated smiley characters on the page, unless you are 3 years old, will not look cute
- Displaying slow loading large videos
- Displaying music in the background ( a lot of people surfing the internet at their offices, do not let them regret to visit your site )
- Having pop up windows, trying to get attention from visitors
- Forcing the visitor fill up a form ( unless this is a rental application form site or a site that you supposed to fill a form, you should avoid forcing visitor to fill a form in your homepage,
- Forcing the visitor to subscribe a newsletter with a pop up window. ( There is nothing wrong about encouraging the visitor to subscribe to your newsletter but, let the visitor decide that, you do not have to poke into his/her eye!
- Using black background with gry or dark color text on it. You need to think of your visitors, not everyone is 20 years old and have healthy eye sight, let your visitor read your text not make it difficult to read
- Avoid using heavy technical jargon on your homepage. You are not writing a scientific paper there, you can use those terms on about us, biography or your portfolio page.
- Do not have a lot of external links . When a person click on that external link, they will leave from your site, in your homepage you are trying to grab people’s attention so they can click on other of your pages, not to send them away within a second!
- Do not mix-match labels, buttons, intro’s.
- Do not hide your identity. By using generic introduction, an ordinary form that does not tell who you are, not showing where you located . That means you are actually hiding, you can easily identify as a scam site
- Using subtle, seamless backgrounds rather than vibrant colors. Everyone’s taste different, but using bright red background with purple color text on it, should not be the first choice.
- Avoid using large photos as your site background with hard to read text on it. A lot of people use tablet and mobile devices nowadays, it will make your site loading speed extremely slow and not fit in every device properly.
- Forcing users to download a font to read your page.
- Avoid using flash animations. Many people surf on the web using tablet devices, iPad, mobile phones, flash is not supported well on mobile platforms. HTML 5 or ajax can do just fine for your animated slideshows.
- Do not copy and paste from other websites. By doing so a) You are violating copyrights b) You are presenting yourself on the internet as content thief , therefore it is not a wise choice.