What’s the very first thing you encounter on a website? The homepage. It’s essentially your welcome sign — it’s the first thing your customers see when they visit your site...you have to make a good impression! Aside from being the introduction to your brand, your homepage serves a lot of other functions as well. It is meant to help both new and existing customers navigate your business to find what they need. Every detail should build toward making a strong first impression and encouraging an intended action — collecting emails, driving sales, promoting a new line, or whatever the case might be. Having a fabulously chic design isn’t enough – the goal is to keep visitors glued to your website. You need to have a homepage that is not only beautiful, but functional as well.
The most important thing to consider when designing your homepage, is to put your visitors first. If you don’t, your website won’t be effective. Bottom line, it’s all about your customers! The best websites are customer-centric, meaning they’re specifically designed with the user in mind. You want to provide the info your visitors are looking for and present it in an organized, intriguing fashion — make it easy for your visitors to do what they came to your site for, whether it’s to buy a product, subscribe to a newsletter, or contact you for more details. Visitors sometimes come to a homepage knowing exactly what they want...and other times they don’t. You have to design your homepage with both of those visitors in mind. Shopify said it best, “A good homepage should accommodate visitors looking for a specific outcome, while directing the attention of the ones who aren’t.”
It’s best to keep these questions fresh in your mind through every step of your homepage creation. With all that being said, there is no “right way” to design a homepage...but these 7 components are essential to creating a killer (and effective!) homepage.
Web-designers talk about the area of the homepage as above the fold— this is their lingo referring to what visitors see before they start to scroll. The best website headers use a combination of attention-grabbing headlines, captivating visuals to keep visitors interested, and buttons to get customers where we want them.
Not sure where to start in creating website headers? We just released a new workshop course for online retail store owners where we take you step-by-step through creating your own website sliders using Canva. You'll complete the workshop with 3 brand-new, custom website sliders as well as a template & tools to continue to create your own sliders from here on out! We're running a special price right now of just $29 for the course (less than half of what you could pay a designer to make 1 slider!)
Whatever you decide to use for your “Above the fold” content just make sure it coheres with your brand, gives the visitor an action, and it’s visually appealing.
This is a big one — Keeping a clean and clutter-free homepage is absolutely essential. No one wants to sort through a messy page. Your site’s navigational strength will rely on simplicity. Have you ever been on a website and felt overwhelmed by all the content, colors and options? Visitors tend to leave a site more quickly if they’re presented with an excessive amount of info. Your site will come off more organized and professional if your content is concise and well thought-out.
Aside from clutter, having a simple navigation on your header is another important aspect. Header navigation should be as straightforward as possible. Organize your pages into logical categories and use standard terms on your menu. Visitors don’t want to guess where to go or embark on a scavenger hunt for a product. The search bar and the shopping cart are integral parts of the homepage for most ecommerce websites. Make sure these are easy to find and “sticky” — meaning they’re present and available on the screen throughout the entire shopping experience, typically in the top-right corner.
A picture is worth a thousand words, right? When it comes to your homepage, this saying could not be more true. Photos have the ability to let your visitors know what your brand is all about — you can portray so much through the images you use on your homepage (and throughout your website).
You can even incorporate your images into your above the fold content. This is most easily done through sliders that showcase products that also have calls to action to help customers navigate the site. (To create your own gorgeous sliders in less than 1 hour, be sure to take a peek at our workshop course on creating your own sliders!)
Of course, the perfect homepage is nothing without good, solid copy. Your first objective should be to ensure that site visitors immediately understand what your site is about. But remember — you can always go into more detail on the other pages of your website, so there’s no need to write a novel on your homepage. Copy that is too long can be distracting and doesn’t keep visitors moving throughout your site. If your site has a blog, it’s best to keep those links below the fold or even in the footer, especially if the content isn’t a core aspect of your business. Side note: the best way to promote your blog is through social media.
Along with staying concise and to the point, you also need to keep your text fresh and current. That will let readers know that your website is up to date and a dependable source of information — this not only builds trust with your visitors but it makes them more likely to want to buy your products.
Social proof is an endorsement of your brand that showcases good experiences from existing customers to earn the trust of new visitors. This can include press mentions, reviews, social media posts, Instagram galleries, or endorsements from influencers. Social proof is becoming increasingly important — especially in e-commerce. Typically, the first thing a consumer does before buying a product online, is to read the reviews. If you have powerful social proof that you can leverage, your homepage may be a good place for it.
Who doesn’t online shop on their smartphones these days? Mobile web-traffic has consistently continued to grow. It’s convenient to do anytime, anywhere — on the subway, in a waiting room, on your lunch break. With phones being such a huge part of everyday life, having a mobile-friendly design will be a huge win in the eyes of your customers. Since a good portion of your traffic is likely to come from mobile customers, every decision you make about your homepage design should also take mobile users into account as well. Simplicity is even more important for mobile users. If you’re a Shopify store owner, the elements of any theme in the Shopify theme store will adjust based on-screen size. However, not all images, text or layouts will seamlessly carry over. You can easily preview your homepage design on different devices in the Shopify theme editor by using the view toggle options at the top of your preview.
If your homepage is your welcome sign, think of your Call to Action as your exit sign. It should be short, hard to miss, and lead your customers down the path they’re looking for. Any call to action should align with the next steps a customer can take toward the main goal of your homepage — for example, collecting their email, pointing them to a product, or leading them to your sales page. That might mean linking to your latest collection or getting users to watch an explainer video to learn more. The call to action has to be straightforward. The user should understand immediately where to click because your call to action button should stand out in your design.
Always, always, always think of your homepage as a work in progress. It will be a constantly evolving and changing aspect of your website. These 7 components are pretty essential to create an effective homepage, but factors like user demographics, branding, marketing channels, and more can influence your user’s behavior as well. As your brand and your website grow, you’ll learn more about what works best for you. Like we mentioned earlier, to be effective, your website must deliver true value to your customers. Put your visitors’ needs and wants first as you create your content, and watch your homepage flourish.
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