10 Horrible Things You Should Never, Ever Do on Your Homepage

Published April 14th, 2014 by Michael Farin

We’ve already talked about some ways to create a great, effective homepage for your business. Now it’s time to re-examine that homepage and see if you’ve done anything wrong. It’s not all rainbows and sparkles, people.

Here are the 10 worst homepage sins you can commit. Really, don’t do them. They’re not even fun.

Sin #1: Not including contact information. Always, always include your email, your phone number and/or a live chat option on your home page, front and center. If your site visitors have to search for a way to contact you, they may never get in contact at all. And that would be terrible.

Sin #2: Not installing analytics. This is really more of an overall website sin than a specific homepage sin – and that, of course, makes it even more serious. If you don’t know who’s coming to your site, how long they’re staying, and which pages they’re looking at, how can you tailor your site to attract more customers? Google Analytics doesn’t cost anything, and it’s quick to set up. Use it.

Sin #3: Including annoying autoplay media. You know those sites where you click on the link and you’re immediately bombarded with a perky, chatty salesperson or a huge blast of music? Or even worse, a buffering image as whatever the media is takes a l-o-o-ong time to load. Don’t be that site. In rare cases – for instance, if you run a mentoring business like Christine Kane – a personal welcome can be an asset. But for most sites, customers should be able to choose when or if they interact with media.

Sin #4: Making your navigation difficult. Most website users expect the navigation bar to be at the top, and for the buttons to read from left to right. (At heart, your users are simple creatures.) Don’t put unnecessary strain on them, or on yourself, by creating “innovative,” convoluted site navigation solutions. Keep things standard, and your users will automatically know where to click, where to contact and where to buy.

Sin #5: Forgetting the search bar. It’s small but mighty, so don’t forget to include it. Top right, baby. Install a search function on the top of all your pages, not just the homepage, so your users can easily find anything they’re looking for. Plus, an added benefit for you: You’ll be able to see what people are looking for, creating a valuable metric for continued improvement.

Sin #6: Designing long, complex registration forms. The more fields your customers have to fill in, the more frustrated they’ll be.  (Frustrated customers are a very bad thing.) Just ask for their first name and email address, and worry about the rest later.

Sin #7: Forgetting to split test. Yeah, yeah, we know. It takes time. You don’t have time. But if you make time to run split tests on different home pages, you’ve got a great chance to improve your site’s conversion rates. You’ll never know what works if you don’t start looking.

Sin #8: Leaving out white space. Don’t clutter every inch of your home page with text, images and media. Design an elegant layout that leaves space for visitors to breathe. A busy, frantic website makes people tired.

Sin #9: Not including sign-up forms. These are the ones that are supposed to be effortlessly simple (see Sin #6). Include a sign-up link on your homepage, because the more people who sign up for your newsletter, your special offers or your updates, the more potential business you’ll get. Don’t assume that your visitors are reading your site looking for the sign-up function. Put it where they can see it.

Sin #10: Write illegible copy. No matter how incredible your homepage content is, if the fonts are the wrong size or the colors don’t contrast, no one can read it. (And no one will want to.) Make sure you’ve tested your site across all browsers, too – a page that looks great in Safari may be hard to read in Firefox.

And there you have it. 10 terrible, horrible sins never to commit on your homepage. Can you think of any others? Tell us in the comments!

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