Good First Impressions: The Home Page

The home page of your website is like a first interview for a new job, except you’re dealing with potential customers. Making a good first impression is imperative, but if you say too much — or not enough — then you’ve potentially ruined a business relationship, as people often visit websites before visiting, calling or e-mailing. If your home page is confusing, they aren’t likely to peruse further. They might even believe your entire business operates in a confusing, disordered way.

When you create a simple home page that’s easy to navigate and communicates content well, visitors know they can expect that same clarity and reliability from your business, too.

Simple

The web provides users with instant access to unlimited information, and you want users to choose the content of your website a midst a host of others. Less is more, especially when it comes to your home page.

Your content is valuable, and you want to provide visitors as much as possible. This creates the risk that you’ll design a home page a way that overwhelms visitors with all your content at once.

Most users are fast and erratic when they search for information on the web; moving from social networking sites to news sites, humorous blogs to consumer sites, they look for quick, useful, digestible content. The best way to appeal to this behavior is to provide a simple, captivating, user friendly home page. Most respected websites present simple text, images and layouts on their home pages, no matter how vast the content is throughout the rest of the site.

Easy to navigate

The aesthetic of your home page should be pleasing, yet functional. You want the page to captivate — through images, layout and text — but the user should always be able to quickly access the most relevant information without delay. Visuals and text overwhelm users if they’re cluttered and unorganized. Though Flash sites are visually stimulating, they also take a long time to load on slow connections. Work through a checklist to figure out if your current home page is guilty of web design over zealousness.

Search box

As the most important tool of your website, an efficient, visible search box lets visitors access the information they need directly, without wading through other content. The placement and efficiency of your search box is imperative, and you should consider utilizing the services of professionals in web design to help maximize the effectiveness of your search function in both placement and usefulness.

One-click significance

What is the most important information you can provide visitors to your website, and how much scanning do they have to do before they arrive there? Like most businesses, there are several important things you want visitors to see, but you don’t want to clutter the home page. As a general rule, visitors should be within one click of your most compelling content. Prioritize your content so you know what to include in those one-click navigation tabs. Keep in mind, that too many tabs will distract your visitors.

The web is a great place to make lasting impressions for your business. It’s also one of the quickest ways to lose potential buyers if your home page is distracting. Do the work to ensure the first experience visitors have with your site is a meaningful one.

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This is a guest post by Kay Ackerman who is a self-proclaimed tech geek and freelance writer, focusing on business technology, innovative marketing strategies, and small business. She spends her free time taking culinary risks and making things happen backstage at her local theater community. You can follow her on Twitter @KayAckerman.