Anatomy of a Website
Web Design, websites
January 17, 2022
Hey there and welcome back!
So far in this Anatomy of a Website series we’ve talked about headers and footers. We talked about what they are and why they’re so important. And we’ve also talked about what makes a good footer or header and what makes for a bad header or footer so that you can apply everything you heard about in those videos to your website.
Today we’re going to continue on by talking about the homepage. And while this might seem pretty obvious to you, it still is a really, really important part of your website. In fact, it might be the most important page on your site. So let’s take a deeper dive into what it is, why exactly it’s so important and how you can create the best homepage for your website as possible.
Before we get started, if you want to see more videos in this series on an anatomy of a website, or you want to see more videos on web design, WordPress, ecommerce, digital marketing and other website related topics, be sure to hit the subscribe button and to ring the bell for notifications.
Now let’s get started.
What is the homepage?
So first things first: what exactly is the homepage?
Well, I mean, it is the home base of your website and really your business. People are going to get to your website through a lot of different avenues and land on a bunch of different pages, but for the most part their first interaction with your business online and on your website is going to be the homepage.
The homepage tells people who you or your business is, what you do and how you can help them. You probably will list out some of the services you offer or potentially show off some of your latest and greatest work. Any good homepage will show off what a business does and what it can offer its potential customers or clients.
This is your best chance to make a great first impression, so keep it spick and span. You might not get another chance to impress a customer enough for them to stick around on your site.
And in the case of a one-page website, which can be a pretty good option depending on your business or product that you offer, it’s essentially your entire website.
Why is the homepage so important?
So yeah, the homepage is pretty important, if you haven’t figured that out by now.
If you craft your homepage in the perfect way, people will likely stick around more to see what you have to offer and whether or not you can help them with whatever problem that they have. It’s the most important page of your website.
And if your homepage isn’t good, people are going to leave, and, well, who knows if they are ever going to come back. There’s a lot of pressure.
At the end of the day, think of your homepage as your storefront window on Main Street. Make sure that it’s clean, the items in the window are laid out in a way that makes sense and shows what you have and that it looks inviting.
Take the time to get it right, and don’t be afraid to change things to make it perfect.
Elements of the homepage
So now that we know what a homepage is and why it’s so important, let’s take a look at a bunch of different elements that you might have on your homepage. I do want to note that not all of these elements will have to be on your homepage. You can use whatever works best for your situation.
The first thing you’ll likely see on any homepage is a hero image or hero section. This is typically a large photo or color background at the top of the page that takes up the entire screen. It also probably has large, catchy text to catch your attention, or it might have the business’ name and tagline and the logo.
It might also have a small form to fill out, like to learn more about the services the business has to offer or to get a lead magnet. Or it might just be a button to either take a user to the next section of the page or to another page altogether. Either way, this section should invite the user to continue to go through the rest of the page. Remember, first impressions and all.
Something you will most likely see on a homepage (and other pages) is a call to action or two. Typically, calls to action are buttons or small forms that get the user to take some sort of desired action. This can be to sign up for a newsletter, buy a product, continue to scroll down the page to learn more or anything similar.
Usually, calls to action are placed in what’s known as “above the fold” or the area of the screen the user sees before they have to scroll down. That way it doesn’t take the user too much effort to take that action. But at the same time, they can be placed throughout the page as well. Also, they should stand out from the rest of the content so that people see them and click on them.
Next up, you might have a service listing if you sell services like plumbing or web design. This way people don’t have to go far to see what you can offer them. Ideally you should keep this section pretty simple. You don’t need to explain every little detail on the homepage. You can do that on inner pages. The goal of the homepage isn’t to get someone to sign up right away. You want them to stick around to learn more and then sign up. A simple icon, small heading and a sentence or two will work.
If you work in something more visual, you might also show off previous projects or works that you have done with a portfolio section. Make sure that you’re truly showing off your best work — again first impressions do matter. This way people get a really good idea of what you offer and what you can do for them.
Along these same lines, if you sell products, you can show off some of your top products in the same way and have a button to see the rest of the store.
Next up, it might be a good idea to list some recent blog posts as well, if you blog on your website. If you write about the topic or industry related to your business, it can help establish your authority on the subject, and it might help someone realize you’re the perfect person to help them.
I would put these towards the bottom of the page because they aren’t super important, but they might entice people to stay on the site longer. And you might want to limit showing the publish date on blog posts, just in case you have a stretch where you don’t post a lot so it doesn’t look like a stale blog to a new user.
Also, you could have a newsletter sign up on the homepage as well. Email newsletters are a good way of keeping people engaged with your business, even if they don’t become a customer right this moment.
That being said, the homepage might not be the best place for a form, if I’m being honest, just because you might want people to view a few more pages before asking them to sign up for something. But it is an option. I would just make sure that it is lower on the page, and don’t make it a popup or overlay, please. That’s a great way to get people to leave your site.
Finally, if you might want to have a brief bio section on your website, either of yourself or your business. It doesn’t have to be long. Really, it shouldn’t be longer than five sentences. We only need enough to be hooked to want to click on a link to your longer bio.
Why are calls to action so important?
Now, in that last section I emphasized calls to action and why you should have them on your homepage as well as the rest of the pages on your website. Why did I do that?
Because calls to action are vital for your website. To make a long-ish story short, they are how people convert into customers or clients or accomplish whatever “goal” you set out for your website.
They are the goal of your website. That is how your website helps your business. If you’re selling products on your website, you want users to click the “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart” call to action on a product page. If you’ve defined the next step in your funnel to be someone to enter in their email so you can send them more information about your services, you want them to fill out that form.
Calls to action are what you optimize your website for. If your calls to action are clearly labeled and easy to see and easy to use and working well, well then, your website is going to be helping your business. So take some time to make sure that a) you have some calls to action on your website, not just the homepage, b) that they look well and that they work, and c) that they’re in the right spot for people to click on them so that they can help your website and ultimately your business.
What makes a good homepage?
So what exactly makes a good homepage anyway?
Well for starters, a user who is new to your website and your business should know exactly what you do and what offer and maybe how you can help them by reading the first few sections of the homepage. Put your best stuff at the top of the page and don’t leave people guessing.
Next, call to action or calls to action on the homepage are clear and make it obvious that this is where the user needs to go next to continue down your funnel. That way you can help guide the user through your sales funnel and hopefully become a customer or client.
There is also a good design and flow to the page. There are so many different ways to create a homepage, and all of the sections we just talked about don’t have to be on there. But make sure that the layout makes sense. Don’t bury your main CTA halfway down the page. And don’t leave people wondering who you are until the very end.
Finally, do make sure that you do have links to your inner pages as well. That will help keep people on your website longer, which is a really good thing to do as well as help your SEO. So if you have a blog, link to that blog page as well as some of the recent posts that you have. Or you can also have a link to your portfolio or bio or contact pages.
In short, a good homepage is one that makes sense, talks about what your business does and invites people to learn more about the business.
What makes a bad homepage?
On the other hand, what makes for a bad homepage design?
Well to start out, there’s no clear focus on what the website or the business is about. The top section has no consistent or clear messaging. And as you read through the homepage, you have no idea what the business does. That’s not good.
Also, the flow to the homepage is off. For example, having your blog posts at the top is a very bad idea unless you’re a news organization. Even having your portfolio as the very first thing isn’t a great idea. You want to introduce people to who you are or who your business is before you hit them with that stuff. If the page is clunky to get through, people are just going to leave.
Next, having no calls to action is a poor decision. You want to guide users to where they should go next. If you have no clear call to action or no call to action at all, they’re not going to know where to go and they might end up outside your sales funnel and that does you no good. In the end, that just results in missed potential sales. And I don’t need to tell you this, but that’s bad for business.
Finally, in that same vein, not having good internal linking on the homepage is going to be a really bad decision as people aren’t going to stay on your website, and that’s going to lead to missed sales. Unless you’re building that single page website I mentioned at the top, you’re going to need to link to those other pages so that people stay on your website longer. Otherwise, folks are just going to leave the site and who knows if they are ever going to come back.
How you can apply this to your website
Finally, how can you take what we’ve talked about today in this video and apply it to your website? Because at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters from this video.
Well first off, take some time to go through your homepage through the eyes of a first time user. Would you stay on the website and through to some of the inner pages to learn more about it? Or would you leave and never think about coming back?
You can even ask your friends and family to do this for you and to give you really good, critical feedback.
Also, make sure that you have one clear and obvious call to action above the fold. Is it obvious what the next step is for a prospective customer or client? If you have an online store, it could be as simple as a button to go to the store page, or maybe you could feature a top product here and have them add it to the cart.
And finally as a big overall look at your homepage, make sure that your homepage is the elevator pitch or small brochure of your business and rest of the website. Make it very clear that you/your business does this or that. Have examples of it. This might be the first impression someone gets of your business, so get it right.
So that’s it for today. What questions do you have about homepages or websites in general? Or is there a homepage, maybe it’s yours, maybe it’s someone else’s, that you absolutely love? Or you can even link to your homepage down in the comments section below so that we can all see what you’ve done. Be sure to leave everything down in the comments section below.
If you’re in the market for a new or first website for your business, I would love to help you get started and create a website to get your business online relatively quickly and for a price that should fit your budget. Check out the link in the description for more information and to sign up for a free one-hour consultation.
Next time we’ll be going over about pages and contact pages.
To see that video and other videos in this series on an anatomy of a website, as well as other videos on web design, ecommerce, WordPress, digital marketing, and other website related topics, be sure to hit the subscribe button and to ring the bell for notifications.
Until next time, I wish you and your business the best of luck!
What is the Website Homepage?