First Impressions

Score! A potential customer lands on your website’s homepage. Now it’s up to you to determine whether this new bond is a one-night stand, a short fling, or a long-term relationship.

Here are 4 ways you can instantly improve your website’s home page. The same rules also happen to apply to first dates.

Keep it real

Be upfront with what your company is. When a customer lands on your homepage, they need to immediately know what the website is for. If they don’t find what they’re looking for right away, they’ll go somewhere else. Most likely to your competitor’s website.

Users need to know:

  • who you are
  • the products or services you provide
  • why they should care
  • whether or not they’re in the right place

Oh, and did I mention you only have a 5 second window to make it or break it? (http://www.usefulusability.com/)

Let’s take a look at examples. Something like this confuses the user:

screenshot of homepage copy advertises blog. Picture of cut out stick figures holding hands

This is an IT service provider that has done a poor job on their homepage. The screenshot above raises questions like: Does the company just blog about IT? What’s their mission? Who do they service?

Aside from changing the text on the website, the photo used should add context to what the company is about. Visuals are very important to online story telling.

Here’s a better example of quick and effective messaging from another IT service provider’s homepage:

CxYk6g1hHrXzFelY6zJM_d6dm9v20QjucoqG9hT0G016-MpETLAbxvLB4IH5w__ewXPXi8QIkX_sORrMs2QQhFt0hlgbETsSOqf7cuwFaT5-pPtjDJaoy3TQgpK2d55O1w

Conpute, the above company, is one that we worked with. The background image is a photo of business people collaborating together with laptops open. Right away, this website tells the user that they provide:

  • They are an IT company
  • They keep business technology at their best state, provide support
  • The customer should care because the company specializes in business technology and they work closely with their clients

Something important to keep in mind is that you don’t want to try and look like a company that you’re not. Just because your competitors do things a certain way doesn’t mean you need to follow. Be true to your company culture and values.

Add Elegance

Simplicity goes a long way. Having more is not better. If your homepage is too cluttered, your users will be overwhelmed.

If you have too much, you’ll end up confusing the user with your design and they won’t know where to go. Think of it this way…

Would you show up for a date in a gold chains, a basketball cap, short shorts, and a Christmas sweater with a blazer over it? I’m pretty sure your date would be a bit puzzled.

This is quite puzzling:

screenshot of lots of navigation options and lots of copy in the header.

As a user, where would you go first? There are way too many options in the navigation bar, the design itself is not very appealing, and the colours don’t mesh well together.

Alternatively, the navigation bar could be broken down to something such as: Home, About Us, Services, Contact Us, and a button on the right that says ‘Donate’.

Now let’s take a look at:

celebrating 10 years of saving in text with cat photos all around and a clean navigation

This design is simple and fairly straightforward. The navigation bar is straightforward and the text on the navigation has clear messaging.

Your designs should be clean and simple so your clients know where to go next. Mixing and matching too many different font styles, colours, images, backgrounds, and special effects creates one not-so-hot mess.

Check out our post on how to design an ugly website. Trust me, you’ll cringe when reading it.

Say all the right things

You’re still courting your visitor when they’re on your homepage, so the last thing you want to do is have verbal diarrhea.

Would you tell your life story in explicit detail to someone over a coffee date in the first hour? No? Then let’s not go into long detailed descriptions of every single service and product your company provides.

Let your visuals help you tell the stories so you don’t end up with something like:

paragraphs of text

The above screenshot taken directly from a mental health organization that supports people of colour. It’s all about ‘me, me, me’. It’s about what the organization does, it’s about their vision and their mission. This isn’t very welcoming at all.

There’s way too much text! It would have been better if more bullet points were used, it’s much more effective if the focus is placed on the people they’ve helped. This could be done by including photos of people of colour, an ethnically diverse community of people at an event, and so on.

The screenshot below is from a mental health organization that helps youth. See the difference? Full disclosure: we worked with (Frontenac Youth Services).

teenager standing in front of brick wall with skateboard. text says hello my name is tom. I struggled with mental illness. This is my story. Button says read tom's story.

The messaging is simple and short. It raises questions like who is Tom? What happened to Tom? Even as you scroll down, the information is given in tidbits.

Remember that phrase, “a picture says a thousand words?” The photo shows a teenager that could fit the profile of age groups of the clients that they help.

Keeping it short and concise peaks the user’s curiosity. Encourage your users to explore further into your website.

Be subtle: bigger is not better

Stop asking your designer to make your logo bigger. On a first date, that’s like yelling your name in someone’s face. It’s just not user friendly.

I know… you’re thinking, “But you said we need to tell them where they are”. I did, but telling doesn’t equate to yelling. You don’t have to turn your logo into an eyesore to get them to notice you. Instead, use the space on your homepage to convey the value your company gives to its customers.

By making these simple tweaks, you’ll instantly improve your homepage.

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