Is Your Website Homepage Effective?

Posted March 07, 2014

By Janine Popick

How often have you searched online for a new product or service and arrived at the homepage of a website only to realize, "I don't even know where to look for what I want here?"

Unfortunately, it happens all too often. And it stinks. But you know what stinks even more? It may be happening everyday on your small business website without you even knowing it. Just a few simple mistakes on your homepage can result in losing business.

Don’t panic. These three easy tips will help you see what’s working on your site and what could use a little help. Put these tips to work, and you’ll be ready to make the most of every opportunity that lands on your website.

3 Ways to Improve Your Homepage

1. Make a Balanced First Impression

When you reach a website's homepage, you should know within three to five seconds what the company does and what you can do on the site. Sounds easy enough, right?

That's not always the case. Instead of keeping it simple, many business owners feel like they have to tell you every single feature and benefit of their product or service; like this is their one chance, and they had better tell it to you now, before they lose you forever.

But guess what? By trying to cram all that information down your throat, these over-eager entrepreneurs actually can make your eyes glaze over and overload you with too much information. The result: opportunity lost.

On the flip side, some businesses go too far the other direction with just a single headline and the hope that you get it. That doesn’t always translate either, so strike a balance and don’t overwhelm or underwhelm your visitors. Focus on what pain points your product or service solves, instead of its features, and you can connect with your homepage visitors more effectively.

2. Practice Good Form(s)

Ever go to a website to get sign up for an email newsletter or a free trial, or to have someone contact you, and find that you have to fill out a form with more fields than a home mortgage application? Yikes—I hate it when that happens.

Here's the best way to practice good form on your forms. Don’t attempt to collect every piece of information you want on the first shot. Yes, you want to know a lot about your visitor, but your visitor may only want—or have time—to give you a few pieces of information.

Plus, if you have more than three or four fields to fill out, your conversion rates (or the number of people that fill out your form, sign up, etc.) will start to drop off. You can test the number of fields and amount of information you collect by using a tool like Optimizely.

3. Increase Value to Increase Conversions

Now that you’ve clearly communicated how your product or service can help your website visitor and kept your form short and to the point, can you convert your visitor into a buyer? The secret may lie in your ability to effectively sell and cross-sell while adding value along the way. By solving your visitor’s problems, you become useful; instead of just selling, you’re being helpful. And that goes a very long way in converting browsers into buyers.

For example, I love sending Omaha Steaks as gifts and, let me tell you, they know how to cross-sell and upsell like crazy. The moment I add something to my cart, they promote two or three other products that complement what I’ve selected. Maybe it’s those twice-baked potatoes (sinful) or that molten lava cake (even more sinful), but no matter what, the company recommends items to increase the value of my purchase and provide me with a full experience.

And if I indicate I am buying the item as gift, they also recommend items I might want to get for myself. They may even offer me free shipping to close the deal. What can you take away from this example?

Make sure you always suggest a complementary add-on product. As your visitor moves into the checkout portion of their visit, suggest and recommend things along the way. What would be most helpful given what products or services they are purchasing? Will they need an extended warranty? Free shipping? Another product?

The key is to solve problems, provide value and make your site's user experience the best it can be. If you nail these three things, you’ll be well on your way to an effective homepage.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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