Your Home Page will make the First Impression on Your Prospect

That’s right…the average web site visitor stays on any given website for only 22 seconds. Why? Because the home page failed to ENGAGE the visitor and make them believe that they could get their problem solved, or get the answers they need to make the best possible decision.

The 5 Biggest Mistakes Most Home Pages Make

  • #1 – They focus on the wrong thing – themselves!
  • Visitors to your web site care about one thing – themselves! They are clicking on your web site because they’re hoping you can solve their problem. They want help, not a salesperson!
  • Slogans, catch phrases and platitudes are killing your conversion ratios. This is probably the biggest mistake that companies make with their home page because it sets the tone for their entire web site. They mistakenly believe that they need to immediately show prospects why they are so great. So their home page is full of generalities, platitudes and catch phrases that include over used words like, “great service”, “top-quality”, “experts in”, “largest selection”, “get the job done the first time”…and the dreaded “we go the extra mile”. These statements lack the power to evoke interest through overuse or repetition – even though they are stated as if they were original or significant.
  • To emphasize our point, let’s look at Dentists. We Googled Dentists in Minneapolis and clicked on the first four web sites we found. Here’s what they said in big bold headlines:
  • “Your dedicated team”

    “More reasons to smile”

    “You’ll love visiting the dentist”

    “We’re experienced, committed and convenient”

  • I’m not sure that “you’ll love visiting the dentist” is a statement any one truly believes or cares about. And how do any of these statements help a prospect choose the right Dentist? The truth is they don’t and that’s why the average visitor only stays on the web site for 22-seconds. The web sites fail to accomplish their main goal – to separate themselves from their competition.
  • #2 – They fail to understand that homepages are scanned and not read like a book
  • People read homepages and websites like they read a newspaper - they scan the entire page and read the headlines and sub-headlines first. Then they choose which headlines match the things that are important to them – what we call their hot-buttons.
  • If you don’t hit their hot-buttons, they’ll be gone in 22 seconds. People are going to your web site for one reason - they want information. Not beautiful pictures, not humor and not slogans and catch phrases on why you are so good. They want you to solve their problem. If your homepage doesn’t accomplish this in a format where they can easily scan the page and find information that hits their hot-buttons, they’ll be gone – and probably won’t ever come back!
  • When visitors arrive at your web site about 90% of them are saying, “Okay you have my attention, now tell something interesting. Educate me and teach me how to make the best decision possible when buying what your company sells.”
  • #3 – They don’t include headlines and sub-headlines for easy scanning
  • We know for a fact that visitors to your site will scan your homepage. So it is absolutely imperative that your homepage contains bolded headlines and sub-headlines that hit your prospects hot-buttons. These headlines must cover all of the subjects and content that your prospects may be interested in. People all buy for different reasons, but they all have one thing in common - they all want to make the best decision possible and get the best value for their money. To accomplish this you need to break up all of the pertinent information that a prospect could possibly be interested in into small bite size pieces of information – with each piece having a sub-headline that your visitors can quickly scan, digest and decide if it’s worth their time to continue on.
  • They spend too much time trying to sell, instead of educating. We’ve established that people go to a website because they have a need. But there’s also an additional important fact that most companies and homepages miss: the prospect usually knows very little about the product that your company is selling. If they were knowledgeable or experts in your industry, chances are they already have a supplier and won’t end up at your site anyway.
  • Become a trusted advisor and educator. When a visitor to your web site first lands on your homepage, don’t try to sell them on how great you are. First teach them everything they need to know about your industry … like a third-party source would. Educate them on the process or product, without the hype and sales-speak that so many companies use. When you make your home-page a portal for prospects to receive the information they need to make the best decision possible, you build trust. And when you’ve accomplished that on your home-page, you will dramatically increase the amount of time people spend on your site.
  • #4 – Being too creative with the design and layout
  • A strange thing has occurred with website design and layout. At the beginning of the Internet, many people, especially graphic designers were excited about the creative possibilities of homepages and websites. They basically felt they had an empty canvas where they could let their creative juices flow. But as the years have passed, the web has become increasingly the same from a design and layout point of view. Why? Because visitors are interested in information, and they want to get that information as quickly and easily as possible.
  • To much emphasis on graphics: Too many home pages and web sites concentrate their efforts on graphics and design instead of content. Why? Because from the beginning of the Internet, 98% of all websites were created by two people: a graphic designer and a techno-nerd who set up the site.
  • The problem with this was, even though sites may have been “cool” and creative looking, they were very hard to navigate and often times very hard to read and understand. Graphics and pictures need to compliment the text instead of being the main focus. Too many times the graphics were chosen first and then text was written to support it. Big mistake! The process is actually the complete opposite. You need to create the compelling, hot-button, and educational content first, and then find graphics and pictures that support the content.
  • Pictures and graphics can’t be optimized by search engines. Contrary to popular belief, pictures and graphics are not optimized by major search engines. So the saying; “a picture is worth a thousand words,” isn’t true for the internet. Search engine spiders that search your site for relevant content and are responsible for getting your site a high ranking cannot read graphics, pictures or any text within the graphics. They are virtually invisible to search engine spiders. Like newspaper design and layout, the Web is evolving a uniform style for designs and layout. Here are a few of the main conventions that are emerging:
  • Masthead – This is the top of the page area that usually includes the company name, logo, phone number, and slogans.
  • Site Navigation – This relates to a small selection of essential links that are presented on every page, and begin with the line for “home”
  • Two or Three Column layout – The left column contains navigation, the middle is the main content; the right includes special offers and features.
  • Footer – Every page has a footer that contains global navigation, contact info, Copyright and privacy links.
  • #5 – They are difficult to navigate
  • Like newspapers, websites, and especially the homepage, have become very uniform in their design and layout. Why? Because it’s simply easier and quicker to find the information the visitor needs. In the beginning of the Internet, web sites had no uniformity, making it difficult and time consuming for visitors. In the quick fast-food, cell-phone, text-messaging world we live in, people have become very impatient. If they can’t get what they want and find what they want quickly, they’re gone!
  • Like newspaper design and layout, the Web is evolving into a uniform style for designs and layout and it’s important your site follows this style.

Your Homepage is the Absolute Most Critical Part of Your Web Site!

You homepage will make or break your web site. Remember the statistic we mentioned earlier, that the average web visitor stays at a site for only 22 seconds. That means that most visitors never get past the homepage. And it is up to you to make sure that doesn’t happen to your site.

Our client’s average visitors stay on their sites for 3 ½ – 5 minutes first visit. And if you would like to see this kind of result, you need to spend the time on creating the right content and headlines for your home page.