As we approach the 21st century’s third decade, it is more imperative that every business should have an online presence. Potential customers and clients will view it as a red flag if a company doesn’t have a website located at a proprietary URL. The quality of these websites is also critical for converting speculative site visitors into actual customers.
All of this begs the question: what makes a good website? In truth, the best sites tend to share specific attributes, such as a high-quality homepage. Having a tip-top homepage makes a good website great – and a great website truly exceptional. It may seem odd that the homepage is such a critical attribute, especially with so many different elements involved in building an effective website, but there are a few key reasons why homepages are so vital…
What makes a good website’s homepage so important?
To determine what makes a good website, a good starting point is the home page. This is the first thing most visitors will see, and just as in real life, first impressions count. As the initial contact point your site provides to visitors, a homepage must perform three major roles simultaneously:
1. To attract and engage visitors
Firstly, a homepage must grab a visitor’s attention, and secondly, keep hold of it. Think of it as a shop window, while the rest of your site is the actual shop. An unattractive or unprofessional homepage won’t engage visitors, who would then be likely to take advantage of today’s plethora of other websites.
2. To encourage visitors to view other pages
As important as your homepage is, it won’t contain product information, links to PDF downloads or forms inviting visitors to sign up to email bulletins. These elements will be located on other levels of your site. Your homepage must persuade visitors to visit the pages where those features are waiting. Engagement is the obvious first step, closely followed by easy navigation. It has to be quick and simple for site users to find what they want.
3. To educate visitors on your brand
A homepage should be more than just a storefront or a welcome mat. The best homepages give visitors a sense of the brand’s ethos, tone of voice and culture, and educating tomorrow’s customers in this way is critical, encouraging them to feel more confident about your business.
Search and ye shall find
These are the key roles your homepage plays as the first point of contact for visitors. Equally, it’s also the first thing Google sees when crawling a site. Google inspects every website, determining its relevance and ranking it for different search terms based on the content located therein. Your homepage is crucial for SEO as it has to give Google a good sense of what your site is about and the kind of searches it should be ranking for. That helps the ranking performance of every sub-page, not just the homepage itself.
Understanding what makes a good website helps you ensure that your site meets these criteria. In turn, understanding the importance of an effective homepage helps to optimise this vital part of the site. The best homepages look and feel professional, giving visitors a sense that the company knows what it’s doing, irrespective of its chosen field. A good homepage also makes it easy and inviting to visit other parts of a site. Finally, it should contain well-written and relevant content which helps to educate visitors about the brand behind the site – while giving Google’s crawler something to get its teeth into…