By Eric Leuenberger
The home page plays an important role in the overall picture of a successful ecommerce site. It often sets the tone for the rest of the visitor experience, and is typically the page visitors will return to in order to reacquaint themselves. Its job is to grab visitors’ attention and provide them with clear direction, along with multiple options for driving them deeper into the site. Following are four important characteristics of good home pages.
1. Displays a clear offer. The home page can have multiple offers, and should, but works best when a featured promotion is given prominence. If this is a monthly sale, give that sale front and center attention. Build in an element of urgency to really drive home the message. Using words like “today” or “limited time” persuades the visitor to act now, or potentially lose the opportunity to take advantage of the offer.
2. Contain a clear call to action. A call to action persuades the visitor to act upon something, like in support of sales, new products, daily features, and more. An example call to action would be a banner with details on the sale of the month, and the text “shop now” included somewhere on it, preferably in the lower right hand corner of the image itself. Other examples include signing up for a newsletter mailing, or adding an item to the cart. Each of these micro actions should contain a call to action that supports the end result.
3. A clear and precise navigational path for accessing site content. This may seem logical, but many sites neglect the “clear and precise” portion. They provide navigation, not thinking of how it is presented, or how it will impact their visitors. Don’t try to get cute and quirky here. Provide the user with traditional categorical navigation elements, as well as inline text links within the copy of the site, leading to those same end points.
4. Multiple presentations of accessing the same information within the site. Most home pages receive a variety of visitor demographics. Each visitor is seeking products to fit their needs, yet each searches in a different manner to get to those results. One visitor may use the main navigational elements within the framework of the site, while another may prefer to read a little more before committing themselves.
To illustrate this point, consider this conceptual example for a store that sells beach clothing. Two different visitors arrive at the site, both looking for the same product. The first visitor is going on vacation in the coming weeks and is looking for an outfit to wear on the beach. The second visitor lives on a beach and is looking for the same outfit. Navigation that might speak better to the first visitor would be a heading that says “outfits for vacation,” while the second visitor may respond better to categorical navigation that simply says “bathing suits.”
To get a home page driving visitors deeper into the website, one must know their visitor demographics, and speak to each in a language they understand. Remember, this sets the tone for the rest of the visitor experience, so make it exciting but clear.