Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on July 12th, 2010

Why Your Home Page Stinks and What You Can Do To Fix It

Did you know that people decide whether your site and company are credible within the first second of landing on your home page?! Historically, the home page was the first place people went to on a website. Now, with the savvy of the search engines, visitors are landing on your site much deeper, and on pages more specific to their queries.

But the home page is still a very important entry point for nearly any site. And most home pages stink. According to the experts who wrote Web Design for ROI, most home pages “have an abandonment rate of between 40%-60% prior to optimization.”

Abandonment Rate:

The percentage of visitors who arrive on a page and leave, or bounce, without navigating further into the site. This is also known as the bounce rate.

If you are one of the thousands of companies that spend bucket-loads of money on your website and have a home page that bounces nearly 50% of your traffic, it’s perfectly natural to be upset. But don’t just sit there and sulk. Find out why your home page stinks and what you can do to fix it... after the jump.

Establish Credibility

Because a home page is usually a person’s first interaction with your site, many of their first questions pertain to relevancy and credibility. Do you look like what you are?

If your home page’s appearance doesn’t match their expectations for your company or industry, they will bounce off your site faster than a cheetah on caffeine. While there may not be one single correct appearance for your industry, you don’t want to look like a skateboarding company if you are a personal injury lawyer. Yes, you may get a ton of broken arm and collar bone cases against the local skate park, but you won’t catch any big fish.

Check out these three home pages I pulled from the InterWeb of providers of high-quality ice chests and coolers:

YETI® Coolers


Igloo® Coolers

These home pages have many things in common: engaging visuals, an informal layout with plenty of outdoorsy elements, and a very strong commitment to colors and branding. Once you determine what is expected in your industry, you can always redesign your home page to be 10% or 100% better than your competitor’s.

Establish Tone

Many home pages don’t have a multitude of copy. Instead, images are used to set the tone and to draw the visitor deeper into the site. But for those home pages that do use a little text, it is incredibly important to establish a clear, consistent tone in your copywriting to support your brand identity and credibility.

Check out the home page from our client, Cosmetic Surgery Affiliates (CSA).

Cosmetic Surgery Affiliates

From the beginning, CSA quickly distinguishes itself from other cosmetic surgery providers through its home page copy and design. The copy is sincere and focuses on educating the visitors rather than selling them – a key element of tone for a rather sensitive subject matter.

Establish Clear Navigation

When people land on your home page, they immediately try and determine how your site is organized and how to navigate about it. It’s the same reason why most people have maps or GPS on road trips (insert male joke here). It makes them feel comfortable, in control, and more likely to successfully explore your site.

Take a look at these two providers of high-quality elementary workbooks for children:

School Zone

Kumon Publishing

There is a significant difference in navigation between the two sites. School Zone’s navigation is very clear, and makes you feel comfortable and in control from the first second with easy-to-find, big buttons to click on for navigation.

By now, you should have realized that your home page stinks, or that your home page already rocks. Either way, there are always improvements to be made to nearly every website home page, including ours.

I recommend taking a few hours every six to nine months and reviewing your home page. Is the content stale? Do you need to tweak a few elements that are working against you? Do your images look like an infomercial for the Snuggie 2.0? Most companies tend to work their fingers to the bone for their clients and forget to take some time to improve their own company. Volacci is currently doing so and I suggest you do the same.

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