Tips and Strategies to Enhance Your Homepage
In a Convio-sponsored webinar at the end of May, Lacey Kruger and Don Roach, senior interactive architect and art director, respectively, at Convio, shared tips and strategies that can help organizations enhance their homepages to maximize engagement.
Kruger and Roach said organizations should focus on the following three main objectives:
1. Engage visitors immediately when they land on your homepage by offering focused content.
An effective homepage should:
Tell visitors who you are and why you exist. Roach and Kruger said 93 percent of homepages don't provide taglines that explicitly summarize what the site or organization does. Try a short, direct tagline or focused imagery. Start by asking yourself, "What are we trying to accomplish with our site?" and make sure your homepage provides an answer.
Include updated, current content. Your homepage should be updated at least once a month. Opt for a modular design so features can easily be swapped out. Save graphics and featured content in reusable components after you pull them from the homepage for later use and easier maintenance.
Opt for breadth over depth. Your homepage is your organization's "10-second elevator speech," so provide basic information efficiently. Include a featured promotion area, latest news, and one to two clear calls to action. Include substance on your homepage, but don't overwhelm visitors with content. "Read more" links are a great way to do this. Try to keep the content "above the fold" so visitors can view all of your content when they first land on the homepage without scrolling.
- prominent, action-oriented navigation, plus a clear, concise left navigation;
- opportunities for constituent log-in and personalization;
- entry points for major audiences; and
- a visual representation of the culture and mission of the organization.
2. Provide opportunities for visitors to begin a relationship with your organization on your homepage.
This starts with offering content for your audiences. The most successful organizations have no more than four to five priority audience types. Each of your audiences should have at least one area on the homepage that they can identify with and would want to read up on.
Kruger and Roach advised attendees to identify their four to five priority audiences, and their needs and motivations. Research each audience and create personas, giving them the characteristics of people that constitute each group. Personas can be useful for organizations and design teams to build a common understanding of each audience group.
Give each persona you create a relationship pathway to your organization that begins with your homepage. Visitors can jump from one pathway to another at any time through the navigation. Each pathway you map should involve conversion or some way for the user to at least provide contact information and opt in right on the homepage. And be sure your prime real estate features all lead to areas where visitors can provide their contact information.
Have a plan for what happens when a user signs up on your homepage (or anywhere, for that matter), e.g., automatically send a message to visitors informing them of what they've signed up to receive.
3. Organize your homepage layout so visitors can access your content as efficiently as possible.
The elements of a Web page are:
- Content (should be no longer than 60 characters per line)
Kruger and Roach said research has shown that visitors tend to read from the upper-left corner of a Web site down to the bottom right, so Web sites should place the most- and least-important information accordingly.
In terms of graphics, Roach said organizations should consider:
- design that supports online goals;
- continuity of tone/personality with existing branded collateral (print, direct mail, etc.);
- color pallet; and
- photo treatment/style
Navigation — one of the most important elements on a site — should be intuitive, clean, consistent, visually separated from content, clearly define/support user pathways and a tool to orient visitors within the site.
The three different types of navigation elements are:
Kruger and Roach recommended no more than five or six global navigation bars.
"Give visitors fewer, more straightforward options so it's easier for them to make a decision," Roach said.
He recommended progressive disclosure, where a site is designed to allow visitors to make a decision and then provide them with another series of navigation options based on that decision. This aligns with mental models, he said, and makes navigation much easier.
Find out more about upcoming Convio webinars.