Your website homepage is the most important page on your website. It’s the gateway to your business and the page where the majority of your visitors land first. Its primary job is to compel visitors to stay, explore more pages and move through the sales funnel. Sounds simple, right?
It’s not simple when you recognize that homepage design requires the most creativity and effort on the part of the web designer compared to any other website page. The central focus of the design needs to be on your visitors. If the right vision and knowledge of current design principles is lacking, your website is going to be unappealing and drive them away.
Here are the six mistakes you need to avoid on your homepage.
Small Images and Large File Sizes
Using small thumbnails in order to fit as many images as you can on the page is not pleasing to the eye. It’s cringe worthy. It can quickly overwhelm visitors and cause eye-strain. If the images are small on desktop, how do you think they are going to look on a mobile device? When you consider that aging baby boomers are the largest demographic population, the last thing you want to do is have images they have to squint to see.
Large image file sizes are almost as frustrating as small images. When webpages have to load large image sizes it can significantly slow page load time. Today’s visitors are impatient and don’t want to wait more than a split second for an image to load. It impacts website performance and is a ranking factor in Google’s search algorithm. Again, if it’s an issue on desktop, it’s going to be an even bigger issue on mobile devices.
Overuse of Animation
Slideshows, videos, slide-in graphics and gifs are a staple of most websites but all on one page? Yikes! While they can increase user engagement, any animation should be a page enhancement, not the central focus. Otherwise, it’s distracting and can also slow page load time. Are you still using Flash animation? Flash is practically dead and you shouldn’t be using it. Nothing says “out of date” better than a flash plugin that needs to be updated. It is now routinely blocked by internet browsers in favor of HTML5. You can thank Apple and YouTube for this.
Poor Color Selection
Either using too many colors or colors that clash is distracting and not pleasing to the eye. If you are using a color background, what color text are you using? Does it hurt to look at? How long can you look at it before eye strain sets in from the glare? It’s important to have whitespace as it gives the eye a rest and makes the other page elements stand out. Stay away from bright neon colors and use primary colors sparingly. Websites like Canva have a color palette generator if you’re stuck for colors.
Who Are You?
I have been on many website homepages where I have asked myself “what does this business do and why should I care?” Two very simple questions, but it’s amazing how often they aren’t answered. I see this more on e-commerce websites. Just because you have pictures of the products you sell doesn’t clue me in to who you are. You need to state what you can do for your customer in a clear, concise way that convinces them to stay on your website. There are too many other websites selling the same products as you. If there is no benefit to buying from your business, why should visitors stick around?
The job of the homepage is to quickly and clearly introduce the visitor to your company, what you can do for your visitors and encourage them to explore other pages. Today’s website visitors don’t have the patience to read through copious amounts of text. They want to skim down your homepage and read small chunks of information.
Anything you write should be easy to read, including the font type and size. Your website homepage is not the place to show all of your products, tell an endless story about your business or explain all of your services in fine detail. I see businesses do this a lot. It creates a very busy, overwhelming homepage especially when a small font size is used in order to include more information. It also leads to a very long page scroll. If it’s hard to read on a large screen, how is it going to render on a small screen?
One piece of vital information that needs to be easily found is your contact information. Your email address and contact number should be clearly visible at the top of every page. Don’t make visitors have to play detective in order to find it.
Using too many font types is also a no-no. If you are going to use more than one font they should complement each other not contrast and they should work with the overall design for the page. You can use a font generator such as Mixfont to find suitable combinations.
Your website’s navigation should have a clear and easy to follow layout. The more clicks, the more frustrated visitors get. While this is harder if you have a lot of products or services, you need to strike the right balance. That means grouping similar products or services into categories. Aim for no more than three clicks to get to the desired product or service. On the flip side, avoid having every page link in your primary navigation. While it may only take one click to get to the page, if you have a lot of links in your primary navigation you will be forced to either use a small font size to fit everything on one line or have a multi-line menu. Both options are hard to read and make it difficult to locate the page the visitor is interested in.
Are these the only homepage mistakes to be concerned with? No, but they are the mistakes that can do the most damage. Today’s website visitors are more demanding, more fickle and more impatient. With so many businesses competing in the same crowded space, it is vital that your website’s homepage meet their requirements. The evolution of technology will continue to create more opportunities to reach and market to your visitors but your website will need to evolve as well. By avoiding these common homepage mistakes, you’ll be better positioned to meet the needs of your visitors and give them a great experience. Feel free to add more in the comments section!