Example of a home page with essential elements

13 Essential Elements Every Home Page Must Have

Your home page is one of the most visited (and arguably the most important) pages of your website.

Think of your home page as a storefront. Every day, people walk past your door, perhaps peering in the windows to see what’s inside. The visual branding, signage, window displays, products you sell, and even the location of your shop help people to form an opinion of you. They decide if they want to open that door based on what they see and how it makes them feel.

Your website works in much the same way.

There are thirteen elements that every home page should have to attract traffic, educate visitors, and invite conversions. Let’s break it down.

The Home Page blink test

Studies show that you have three seconds to convince a reader to stay on your site and learn more about you. And because the human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than it does text, design is a key factor in the success of your website.

1. Logo and Brand Identifier

Place your company logo and tagline at the top of the page so that it’s immediately clear what website they are visiting. If possible, ask your web developer to make the header “sticky” – meaning that the logo and navigation remain at the top of the website even as the reader scrolls, ensuring that they always know exactly where they are.

Make sure that all of your visual branding elements – colors, fonts, design style – are incorporated into the design and consistently throughout all of your marketing materials.

2. High-quality, Relevant Imagery

Like it or not, emotions drive the decision-making process. The right photo, infographic, or video can create an emotional connection with your site visitors before they’ve read a single word on your website.

Whether you use stock imagery or custom will depend on your budget, audience, and designer input. You will generally want to avoid cheesy, low-quality, or too-small images. Remember, the visuals you choose reflect the pride you take in your business.

3. Clear, concise headline

Your home page headline is often the first thing on which the reader actively focuses. A compelling headline should grab the reader’s attention and pull them in. Don’t try too hard to be clever – your reader should understand it instantly without having to decipher your message.

And don’t get caught up trying to please every person who visits your website with that one sentence. KISSmetrics recommends targeting your headline for the 20–35% of site visitors who are most likely to be happy with your product.

4. Enticing Subheadline

Your sub-headline should supplement and expand on your headline. Give them a taste of what you have to offer. Address a pain point, describe your primary product or service, or highlight a benefit: the purpose of your subheadline will depend on the headline that you choose.
SoulFood CoffeeHouse home page screen shot

Tell them who, what, and why

It may sound cliche, but these are vital questions that you should be sure to address. After all, it’s usually why people have come to your website in the first place.

5. Talk a bit About yourself

You may have adequately addressed who you are with your logo, tagline, headline, and subheadline at the top of your home page. Depending on your business, however, you could expand on what makes you different from your competition.

6. Share what you do

List a few of your key services, products, or features. Choose your biggest sellers, or focus on the unique features that make you stand out. But don’t get carried away – the goal isn’t to include every detail about what you do here, but rather to give them an overview of what you do with an opportunity to learn more by clicking through to an interior page.

7. Highlight your benefits

What are the benefits of your product or service? Address key pain points for your ideal customer, and help them to understand why it matters to them. Can you make their lives easier? Save them money? Make them feel good? Try to understand their driving motivation and explain how you can solve it.
A Buggs Life home page screen shot

8. Prove it

You can reinforce everything you’ve told the reader about yourself using Social Proof. Research shows that 79% of consumers trust online reviews and testimonials as much as they do personal recommendations from their friends or peers. Including testimonials on your home page can go a long way toward establishing the know-like-trust factor that consumers want.

You can earn bonus trust points by including a photo and as much detail about the customer as you’re comfortable giving.

Focus on the user experience

Visiting your website shouldn’t make the reader feel like they’re driving in a strange city without a navigation system. It should provide a clear roadmap that shows them where to go and what you want them to do when they get there.

9. Clear, intuitive Navigation

Your navigation should be easy for a first-time visitor to use and understand. Typically, that means a simple navigation bar across the top of the page. If your site has a lot of pages, then incorporate a drop down menu or mega menu to keep your main navigation from getting overcrowded. Be sure to test your links regularly to be sure they’re working.

Caffeinated Design Studio home page menu menu navigation screen shot

Example of a mega menu

For an even cleaner look, some website owners opt for a hamburger menu – the three stacked, horizontal lines that have become widely recognized by smartphone users as the symbol for a menu. While it adds an extra mouse click or touch to access, it can create a more compelling visual experience when the design is the focal point.

The Social Playground home page screen shot

example of hamburger menu

10. Calls to Action

What is the MOST IMPORTANT action that you want people to take when they visit your website? This is your primary call to action and should be placed in a highly visible spot above the fold – meaning that it appears on your home page without scrolling. Your calls to action should be active and use no more than five words: BUY NOW, SCHEDULE YOUR FREE CONSULTATION, and SIGN UP TODAY are a few examples.

You should also include secondary calls to action for visitors who aren’t yet ready to pull the trigger, such as JOIN OUR MAILING LIST or LEARN MORE. Guide them gently into your sales funnel, giving them the information and confidence they need to make a decision.

Your calls to action should stand out on the page using a color that contrasts with the color scheme of your home page (while still fitting in with the overall design).

11. Contact Information

You must make it as easy as possible for people to connect with you, so include a contact page in the main navigation. Typically, people will first look for contact information on the top right-hand side of your site, so don’t make them hunt for it!

More bonus points for placing your phone number (and address, if you have a brick-and-mortar location) in the header and/or footer so that it’s immediately visible on every page with click-to-dial on mobile devices.

Make a lasting connection

People who visit your website will have their own needs, motivations, and desires. Some will be ready to make a purchase, others will be browsing, and some may just stumble across you accidentally. No matter what their purpose or how they found you, encourage them to become a part of your community so that you can nurture your relationship.

12. Links to social media

People want to do business with other people, not with companies. A social media presence can help to personify your organization and make you feel more approachable. Invite people to follow and engage with you online, but link only to channels on which you are active – no one likes to talk to a vacuum.

13. A Relevant, Enticing Content Offer

Often called a lead magnet, use free content such as an ebook, checklist, or video to guide site visitors into your sales pipeline. Integrate the content offered with an email marketing system such as MailChimp or Infusionsoft to add them to your database, and follow up with a series of autoresponders, like this one from AskFelicityKeith.com.
Ask Felicity Keith home page screen shot

Kristin Heffley

Kristin Heffley is founder and Chief Executive Caffeinator at Caffeinated Design Studio, a visual marketing agency based near Seattle, Washington. She loves coffee, her family, and helping clients create knock-their-socks-off brands, among other things. Her favorite caffeinated drink is a sugar-free vanilla Americano.

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