The homepage is so unbelievably important to your site that it amazes me when people spend their time equally across all content pages. Many content pages are about function and clarity, the homepage needs to do a million things at once, and do them incredibly well. Tie this with varying screen sizes, debates about ‘above and below the fold’, and throw a board of directors with varying goals in mind and you’ve got yourselves a nightmare! Well I’m going to try to iron out some of these issues for you.
Above or below ‘the fold’? where even is ‘the fold’?
The absolute key to your homepage (as to any website or indeed business plan) is to know your audience. It is widely acknowledged that this who are non-tech savvy will be less patient when it comes to scrolling and investigating, whereas those who are more familiar with technology will be more impressed by modern design and design innovation.
This being the case, above the fold becomes increasingly important if you consider yourself to have a less than average tech savvy audience – make things clear, accessible and above the fold, there is little room for creating a positive impression with the latest wizardry if you’re only going to confuse your visitors.
There is however evolution in the importance of the fold. With an increasing variety in screen sizes and resolutions we find that the exact position of the fold varies HUGELY, and as such you must cater to the widest audience, rather than be able to tailor the visual for every single device, as this would take years and cost zillions.
To say you must cater for a less than tech savvy audience through designing conventionally, is not to say that you must design a dated website if you consider yourself to have ‘technologically dated visitors’. Oh no no no!
There are further options at your disposal.
- ‘Click sliders’, where you’re able to have a great deal of information accessible via a simple click from the home page – click ‘Contact Us’ in the top right of www.rsg-plc.com for instance (please ensure you have X’s and other user features highly accessible throughout).
- Mobile responsive functionality to reduce image height and adjust page content for lower browsers to ensure that content remains prominently positioned in the vertical height of the screen space available.
A lot of people would rather find out about your business personality than read your marketing speak – and this is achieved through social media. Make your social media profiles prominent, and don’t just bung a ‘follow’ link on there and think your users will come flooding in – you need to tell them why they should be following you!
What do your visitors have to gain from following you? are your social media channels updated fairly regularly and do they genuinely look useful? think about the channels you would actually follow and enjoy, list those features, then try to apply them to your own profile – got a few missing? thought so. Time to think like an impatient reader than think like a broadcaster.
Not one just for the homepage, but crikey it’s mega important.
Some designers don’t like it, but the navigation is not to be trifled with! In some designers world, we’re all web savvy, the only visitors to your site will be fresh from the Apple Store using Chrome on their 6 month old macbook pro, in the real world, the variety of IT literacy is astonishing.
Navigation is of paramount importance to your site usability, it tells people where they are, how to get what they want, and how to get back to where they were. Better navigation = more page visits = more purchases/enquiries, genuinely it’s that simple.
Try something risqué or unconventional with the navigation at your peril, it must be prominent, consistent, accessible and conventional to ensure your users know what the hell they’re doing within your site at all times.
Final piece of today’s jigsaw is to get the contact details in there, or at least a bit prominent link to the contact details. It’s the reason that many people visit your site. You don’t want people to become frustrated and leave – convention has it that contact details/links go in the far top right – again this is a convention best stuck to for customer satisfaction.
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