November 24, 2015
When a visitor comes to your home, how do you welcome them in? Think of your website’s homepage as similar entryway. What impression do you want to give your guests? Professional or friendly? Intimate or formal?
Take this opportunity to do three important things:
- Welcome your visitors
- Give them an understanding of your brand’s tone
- Give them multiple venues to engage with
Consider the following components of your site’s intro.
The headline should be clear and concise, telling visitors where they have arrived and what they should expect.
Take a look at this headline by Fit for a Frame, a company that creates art prints by guest designers.
Clear, uncluttered and to-the-point, this headline tells visitors what the product is, while the sub-header explains the company’s unique twist. These aren’t just any art prints. They come pre-sized in the dimensions of standard IKEA-brand frames.
The Internet is a cluttered place. Information overload makes it hard to create content that stands apart from the rest, but high-quality, attractive visuals are a great way to break through the clutter and capture your audience’s attention.
Photos of real people add a human element to a webpage, and they drive engagement in a major way. Press releases generate 14 percent more views when they contain photos, and tweets with photos generate five times more engagement than those without.
Take a look at this homepage from TechValidate, a content marketing software platform.
The page uses a photo of a real client who has benefited from the product. Refresh the page, and you’ll see another brief client profile. The human element offers credibility to back up the product’s claim, while minimalist design — with good, clean use of whitespace — makes the human face the focal point of the page.
Animation and Video
Well-executed animation in web design does an amazing job of driving visitor focus, which is precisely why it’s so useful. One way to animate a page is by using CSS, which enhances an already creative use of typography and color.
Here’s a nice example from Brightline, a passenger train company based in Florida.
Autoplay has long been a popular tactic for grabbing consumer attention on the Web, but it’s also a notoriously obnoxious one. In late 2013, Facebook made a simple but revolutionary change to the way we think about autoplay: it did away with the sound. Any video posted to the social network now plays automatically — but silently. Users who want to view the video with full sound can choose to do so, but they also have the option to keep scrolling.
Brightline has taken a page out of this book and left intrusiveness out of its autoplay function. But, significantly, Brightline does Facebook one better. Instead of playing video, it plays a simple, clean and well-executed animation that serves as a preview of sorts.
The overlay of the universal Play button allows users to click on the animation to view a video that presents Brightline’s services in more detail. Meanwhile, the sidebar contains all the necessary links. When visitors roll over the icons, they have the opportunity to visit other pages of the site to learn more about the company.
Call to Action
How do you want visitors to interact with your content? What should they click on? When should they click on it? A clear call to action (CTA) delineates the path you want them to take, and it should be front and center. Here’s an example from Mint budgeting software.
The combination of the headline and the bright “Sign Up” button makes for a very effective CTA. But users can also scroll down the homepage to learn more or visit one of the links at the top of the page. There are multiple paths for engagement — but not too many. The page doesn’t overwhelm. It flows naturally and makes sense for the target audience.
Keep It Simple
All the above examples have one thing in common: simplicity. Your homepage should also be easy to navigate, with clear paths to different pages, whether visitors access the site from a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. With a clear headline, nice visuals, a strong CTA and simple navigation, you have all the tools in place to create a compelling website intro.
Image by Stokpic
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