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What Makes a Great Homepage Nowadays?

What Makes a Great Homepage Nowadays?

Only one thing about homepage design is certain; change is inevitable. Design from a few years ago no longer meets the needs of today, but unfortunately many sites either haven’t updated their look or have updated but used outdated ideas.

How did homepage design work in “the old days”

Keyword stuffing: Homepages were designed to include most if not all the keywords a company wanted to rank, before Google’s algorithm was updated to recognise keyword stuffing. This included headers or footers that contained a huge list of keywords and most of the content was text so that search engines could find even more keywords on the page.

Above the fold:  Interaction with sites was as if they were newspapers. If your important content didn’t appear at the top of the page, you expected users to click away before scrolling down to find it.

Universal messaging: The idea was to serve many visitor types equally and Homepage messaging was designed to reach a variety of potential audiences in order to attract every possible type of client.

In theory these sound like good ideas, they just don’t work for today’s web users. An increase in mobile searches and drastic changes in Google’s algorithm mean that today’s homepage experience require a lot more streamlining and a lot less text overall.

What we like to see on a homepage nowadays

Branding: A good logo that represents your business will stick in customers’ minds long after they leave your page; so get your logo up there!  Make sure that the rest of your page has a coordinated style with fonts and a colour scheme.

Easy navigation: every section of your site does not need to be promoted on your homepage. You do need to make sure that your site is easy to navigate by making  your most critical information the centrepiece, whilst still making sure that less popular resources are easily accessible.

Visual illustrations: Your homepage no longer needs to be 90+ percent text, you don’t need it for SEO and it certainly isn’t going to enhance your user experience. Instead, create compelling visual content so that users know exactly what they can expect to find on your site. The question; ‘what does this company have to offer and how can it benefit me?’, should be answered before they have a chance to act.

Targeted messaging: Think about your most critical visitors; what do they need? Your homepage messaging should reach these visitors first, since users who are looking for something else are likely to find your site via a social media link or a Google search. Social sharing combined with Google’s advanced algorithms mean that it’s easy to promote individual articles, products, services and or other media.

Storytelling: Aspects of storytelling should be incorporated into your homepage, share your unique value proposition and a bit of the story behind your company or your products. A good story will draw your visitors in and stick with them even after they click away to visit other sites.

Calls to action: Make sure to present clear calls to action so that your visitors know what steps to take. The need for the message to be clear and direct is something that applies to every site but this action depends on your business and your goals.

Social signals: The majority of web users today, spend their time on social sites like Facebook and Twitter. Include links to your social profiles to increase your credibility and to let them know that your company is social, too.

Limited keywords: Don’t put all your keywords onto your homepage even if it is still important to research and evaluate keywords to promote your site. You should be very selective about the homepage keywords you choose to use; some experts even recommend focusing just on brand names on the homepage. You don’t want Google to penalise you for stuffing your homepage and you have plenty of other, product-specific pages on which you can promote a wider array of keywords. Incorporate keywords into your page title, alternate image text, and H1 structure to avoid sticking blocks of keywords in your header or footer.

Content beyond the fold: Create a page that compels users to scroll to find more of what they need; don’t cram all of your important information into the top section of your website – it is not a newspaper! Users in today’s mobile-driven world aren’t afraid to scroll, in fact, they expect it. If you keep things interesting, they’ll keep going!

Isn’t it time to re-evaluate your homepage design? Set up a meeting with The Media Genius’ creative team today, and we’ll get you up to speed in no time!

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