Building a stunning website and digital presence for your business is a no-brainer for truly standing out in an endless sea of online businesses. And putting the power of strategic design into your homepage is absolutely key for capturing the attention of potential clients and communicating your unique brand to them with powerful clarity. Today, I’m going to talk about what to avoid when designing a website homepage.
The days of your website acting as an online business card are long gone! In the last year, 99% of consumers have used the internet to find information about local businesses. Your website is your company’s digital “home” on the internet. If you’re an online-based business, it might be your company’s ONLY home!
However people hear about your business, one of the first places they will head is your website to learn more about who you are, what you can offer them, and what makes you unique. They want to know if you can solve their problem, and you have to be ready with a homepage that shows them that you are their solution!
75% of consumers will base their overall impression of a company’s credibility on their website design! No pressure or anything – right? (Don’t worry, I’ve got your back.) Your best chance at leaving a lasting impression of your brand with potential customers all starts with the foundation of your website: the homepage. How long does it take site visitors to shape a first impression based on your website? On average, people who come to your company’s website form an impression of your brand in about 2.6 seconds!
It’s really important, so I’ll say it again: Potential customers are deciding whether or not they will spend money with you based on your online presence!
The homepage is traditionally the first page that visitors to your site – aka potential paying clients – will land on. A strong homepage will set the stage for the visitor’s entire experience on your website. It can be the difference between a client leaving your site right away, or making the transition from browser to buyer! Essentially, your homepage is your big chance to make your brand’s elevator pitch to anyone who visits your site & to convince them to stick around for more.
Your website isn’t the only marketing tool you have at your disposal, but it can certainly do a lot of the heavy lifting to position your brand well with potential clients. If you fail to communicate your brand message clearly and effectively, it will cost your business money and sales.
Since the homepage is the first thing people see when they get to your site, you want to be sure to be crystal clear in your communication of three things:
- Who you are
- What you do for clients
- How clients can get what you offer
It’s really that simple. But without expert branding and website guidance, a lot of service providers and small business owners miss the mark on communicating with clarity when they design homepages for their businesses!
Stick around, because today I’m spilling all the details behind the three most common website mistakes I see on & how to avoid them:
- Not showing your face
- Not making the text “skimmable”
- Missing out on a clear Call to Action
You must correct these web design mistakes if you want your homepage to capture potential clients’ attention and get them scoping out your services! Don’t worry, I’ve also got you covered with easy solutions that will get your homepage on track in no time!
Okay- now grab your favorite warm beverage and let’s dive into the most common mistakes I see on homepages – and my top ways to fix them so your homepage can truly stand out against your competition!
Mistake #1: Not Showing your Face
Your website is typically the top & first touchpoint people will have with your company, and this is your big chance to make a great first impression and add a personal touch to your website. YOU are the face of your brand (the true secret sauce behind your mission) and one of the very first things your audience should see when they come to your homepage is your wonderful, beautiful, lovely face! Let yourself shine as the face of your business!
Did you know that 40% of consumers value your website’s images and videos as the top visual elements on your website?
Using custom brand photos of yourself to show your face is crucial to getting your audience to know you, like you, and build a relationship with you. Images of the exact person behind the brand customers will be working with brings clarity, trust, and meaning to their experience on your site. Think of it as the beginning of a beautiful relationship with your future clients!
When you’re choosing images for your website, it can be tempting to skip the photoshoot and just use stock photos instead. Stock photos are OK sometimes, but generic photos that aren’t really relevant to your brand or services can be confusing for potential clients and make it hard for customers to understand what you offer.
Things get even more confusing for site visitors if the stock images you use are low quality, cheesy, or outdated. Even worse, the exact same stock photos might show up on a competitor’s website – how embarrassing! This faux pas can tank the trustworthiness factor of your brand and lower your website conversions. In short: how can a client be assured your brand is unique if your site has the same images they’re seeing everywhere else?
The Homepage Quick Fix
Partner with a professional photographer who will take brand photos that showcase your personality! Investing in custom brand photography is one of the TOP ways you can truly set yourself apart from the competition. It’s a great way to show off your brand’s character and values. When you show up authentically in your brand’s visuals, you WILL stand out! Plus, new photos can be a just plain fun way to freshen up your website’s imagery!
When you hire a local photographer, you get the bonus of supporting another small business owner – and that’s a double win in my book! That’s how I want to roll when I’m building my business!
Mistake #2: Your Copy is Not Skimmable
Here’s a fun fact for you: viewers will only read, on average, 20% of the words on your website. All in all, they will only spend about 5.59 seconds reading your copy!
So, if visitors are not reading every single word that you post, how are they engaging with your website copy? They’re skimming it! Maybe what you’re doing right now. 🙂 Once they’re on a website’s homepage, 80% of potential clients are only reading the headline of each section.
Time and attention are precious, but limited, resources on the internet. To make the most of a potential client’s attention while you have it, your homepage copy needs to be clear and compelling. If your copy is not easy for readers to navigate and find the information they’re looking for, they’ll quickly move on.
Long walls of text, lengthy sentences, and avoiding headers in your text to make your content ‘ bite-sized’ is a huge website mistake! Chances are you too have pressed that back button if you land on a website lacking in the use of headers. The main reason being it feels overwhelming to have to hunt to find the information you originally searched for & you have to work too hard to find information. You don’t want to your potential clients to struggle to find information on your site.
The Homepage Quick Fix
To be ready for those skimmers, your content should be bite-sized! Take advantage of headlines and subheadlines to say – simply, distinctly, and as soon as possible – what service you offer, what value you bring to clients & have a clear path of how to work with you. The more direct this message is, the better!
Take my homepage as an example. The very first copy on my site reads: “Strategic Designs. Stunning Websites. Significant Results.” Next is a large, bold headline that says: “Beautiful and strategic WordPress Websites for Service Providers that convert viewers into full-blown paying clients”.
Immediately, you know what I do: I build WordPress websites for Service Providers. What value does that offer to my clients? It converts viewers into clients.
This is the most important information you need to get across on your homepage, and ideally, it will appear “above the fold” on your homepage. “Above the fold” comes from an old term for the space on the top half of the front page of a newspaper. It’s where people can find information without having to unfold the paper to see the rest of the page. For a website, “above the fold” means information people can see without having to scroll.
Any other copy that appears on your homepage should be as simple and short as possible. Keep those sentences and paragraphs brief! Use bullet points and lists wherever you can. I’ve heard this described as writing copy like you’re communicating in morse code. Keep it short, to the point, and on message.
Good website design will make use of headlines, fonts, and colors to lead the customer’s eye through your homepage. Headlines and formatting text with bold, italics, and highlights are all great ways to tell people just where to look to find the most important information on your site.
Mistake #3: No Clear Goal or Call To Action
So you’ve partnered with a professional web designer to build a spectacular website for your business. You’ve invested in awesome, personalized brand photos to connect with your potential clients. Your homepage copy is a paradise for skimmers. We’ve talked about how by the time people are on your homepage, they should know exactly who you are, what you do, and what value your service offers to them. But what’s next?
Chances are, you didn’t build a website just so people could see your photos and read your copy! Ultimately, you want them to become paying customers! In an ideal world, your website would be so powerful and your brand would have such a fantastic offering that people would be knocking down your door to do business with you.
Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy – most potential clients aren’t ready to naturally act on their own to step up to your offer. Sometimes it can feel like you’re being too direct if you just ask people plainly to buy your service, but you really do have to make it obvious that you want people to buy something from you!
To convert viewers into paying clients, you have to tell them, very directly, what you want them to do next. Without this vital piece of information, called a “call to action” (or “CTA”), you’re losing money for your business. Potential clients will just leave your site without ever taking the next step to do business with your brand.
A shocking 70% of small businesses have NO call to action on their homepage – don’t let yours be one of them.
The Homepage Quick Fix
The solution is simple: you have to take the initiative to directly ask clients to do exactly what you want them to do! Clarity is key! Think about the next step you want a site visitor to take on their journey to becoming your client. Is it setting up a consultation call? Signing up for a course? For many service providers, this next step might be something as simple as visiting your “services” page to check out your different offerings.
The call to action is where you’re actually doing business! Don’t hide information about the way people can purchase your services. Don’t beat around the bush or try to be clever. You want the CTA to be clear, direct, and easy to read. It should also be easy to find on the page! Rather than using something fancy or cutesy, place the CTA on a traditional “button” in your main brand color – this will lead the reader’s eye right to your CTA!
Your call to action should also be bold! Some people are afraid of coming across as pushy or overly sales-y. But ultimately, if you can’t ask your client to do business with you, then they won’t have confidence that you can help them solve their problem. You already know you offer amazing services, so why wouldn’t you want to partner with clients and help them achieve success?
A successful call to action is direct and prompts readers to take precisely the next steps you want them to take when they’re on your site. This message should be short and simple. The ideal homepage CTA should easily make sense to readers and be enticing.
A few of our go-to & clear call to action include:
- Buy Now!
- Yes, Please!
- Book a Call
- I’m Ready, Where Do I Sign Up?
- Apply to work with me now!
- Tell Me More
Remember how most visitors to your site are scanning your copy? Your CTA should be super easy to find on your homepage! Some wonderful ways to do this are to place it on a button, make it bold, or make it an eye-catching brand color. Just remember: it should always be obvious! Even if a potential client isn’t ready to do business with you at this very minute, they should know, without a doubt, that you want to do business with them, and how they can get in touch with you when they’re ready.
I hope these web design tips help you better understand what to avoid when designing a website that will convert readers into customers! Building a homepage that connects with your ideal clients can be a daunting task, but if you can steer clear of these web design mistakes, you’re off to a great start!
It takes a little bravery to put yourself out there for your brand and ask for what you want from readers! But if you show up and show your face to potential clients, take the time to optimize and clarify your copy, and get bold with your call to action, I promise you that you’ll see amazing results. With just a few easy tweaks to your homepage, readers will grow to trust your brand, get clarity on how you can help, and be ready to respond to your CTA. When you know what to avoid when designing a website, you’re ready to build a proven path for visitors from your homepage to becoming your next clients!
Now that I’ve told you the top three most common website mistakes I see on homepages when I land on a website, I’d love to know: have you avoided these mistakes on your website? Be sure to follow along here on the blog and on my Instagram for more web design tips!
I'm the Founder & Creative Director behind Southern Creative. Taco-lover, a sucker for neutral color palettes, and completely in love with crafting websites backed with strategy so you can put your focus where your heart & expertise truly is.