January 14, 2015

Extreme Makeover: Homepage Edition

By Lauren C.

There’s a deli around the corner that’s the best kept secret in Orange County, and only I know about it. It’s in the middle of a strip mall-and the building has pink trim along its edges with these dilapidated green things in front that I assume are supposed to be plants. The windows are suspiciously foggy and I’m afraid to know why. I’m not sure whether I want to run away from this 1980’s freak show, or take pictures like a tourist visiting Pompeii for the first time.

Also, the food…is…DELICIOUS. But can that make up for the shop’s poor first impression?

Just as a store’s aesthetics are important, so is a website homepage, or the initial page of a website with basic information about the company. The product that you sell may be spectacular, but if a homepage is non-intuitive, a lot of users will leave, quickly. In the world of online marketing, first impressions matter.

So let’s take a look at the advice of self- described retail store doctor, Bob Phibbs and apply it to the redesign of your website.

1. Keep the Paint From Peeling
Your homepage should use common sense and colors that blend well together. The design should complement the content, not distract from it. The focus should be on the important aspects of the page, such as the navigational headers, a welcoming or introductory picture, and a Call to Action (contact us, see our deals.) The customer doesn’t care about the length of your homepage, but rather the value that it brings to themselves as a user.


2. Think About How Your Customers Would Walk Around the Store
Phibbs explains that people typically go into a business and walk counter-clockwise through the store. If the layout doesn’t conform to this navigational pattern, it will be counterproductive. An intuitive navigational system on your homepage holds the same weight. Here are the natural traffic patterns that users like to follow when they are on a homepage:

A: Put Your Deli Meats in Order. Put your main headers in order of importance, from left to right since this is the way people read. For example, a good order of navigational links about a school might be: About Us, Programs, School Life, Parents, Teachers, Admissions, Library, Contact. Your sub-headers can be either in drop down menus under the main headers, or neatly organized on the sidebar.

B: Refrain From too Much Pattern. Main and sub navigation links should open in the same tab in a browser and not open a new window every time one is clicked on. One expert says that, “users like to be able to go back by pressing the back button, and move through your website smoothly by pressing the other links.”

3. Stop and Think Why You Don’t See New Customers
If your sales aren’t doing well, a non-intuitive homepage may be a contributing factor. Users have arrived at your homepage because they have either found you by accident, through local search, or specifically knew who you were and needed more information. If your sales are slow, but your product is good, then a redesign should be the next step in generating leads again.

It’s Time to Get Rid of the Pink
My deli’s good food saves itself from a terrible design, but a high quality product can’t always overcome the first impressions it gives to strangers. Outward appearances matter in business because they create a sense that a company understands their target audience and want to make their website and/or retail store the best possible experience for their customers. Professionalism and intuitive design earn a customer’s trust, which directly relates to higher sales and conversion rates.

What is your opinion on homepage designs? Has a redesign been useful to your company? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.





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