Home Page Design Tips

Before we begin this discussion on home page design, we first need to define what a home page is. A home page generally serves as the introduction to a website and acts as a directory to the rest of the website by providing links to the main sections.

Because the home page receives the majority of page views on a website, how it is designed is an important consideration in building your website. For many visitors, your homepage is the first page they will see of your website. You want to make a good first impression so that people will explore your website further.

As you think about how to make a home page, there are three fundamental things that you need to consider about how people surf the internet:

  • People don't like to read long text.
  • People don't like to scroll.
  • People don't like to wait for graphics to load.

People have short attention spans, so you want to make sure that your homepage gives them a reason to stick around.

So how should you set up your home page design? There isn't any one set formula for a home page design, just some general guidelines, which are discussed below.

Make A Good First Impression With Your Home Page Design

Most visitors will be looking at your website from a seventeen or nineteen inch monitor, so the top five or six inches of your site are what will be visible on their screens. Because people quickly scan pages and don't scroll down unless they are interested, you want to put the majority of your most important information in the top section of the screen.

It's important to note that most visitors browse the home page to see if there is any reason to go deeper into a website. By keeping your home page simple, you can guide visitors to the information that they need quickly and easily.

To make a good first impression quickly, aim for 500 words or less of text to give an overview of what your site is about. Breaking your text up into three to six paragraphs will make your page even easier to scan.

Make the Purpose of Your Website Clear

One of the first things a visitor to your home page should see is a simple and clear statement that tells what your website is about and what it can offer them. You have about 10 seconds to catch their attention. After that, a visitor begins to lose focus, so get to the point right from the beginning.

So how can you accomplish this in ten seconds? Write an introduction to your website that your visitors can instantly identify with. In a clear statement, you should addresses the needs of your visitors and show them how you can fulfill their needs.

To help you get started drafting your introduction, answer these questions about your website:

  • Who are the people that would most likely visit your website?
  • What needs do they have?
  • What would a visitor expect to find on your website?
  • What do you offer on your website? Is it products, services, information, or a little bit of everything?
  • What is unique about your site that sets you apart from your competitors?

Take your ideas and the answers to the above questions to create a one sentence summary about what your website has to offer. Ideally, your introduction shouldn't be more than 40 words long.

Add Links to Your Main Sections

As you work on your home page design, you need to consider what you want your visitors to do on your site. If there is a certain page or section that you want your visitors to go to, then you should feature this prominently on your home page. You also want to include links to the other main sections of your website.

Make sure that your links are text links because this is what most people will click on first. Your link names should begin with the most important keyword phrase for that section. When you begin each link with a relevant keyword, it makes it clear to your visitors what they will find when they click on a link. You can also include a short description to tell people what they will find when they click on the link.

Keep Your Graphics Small

People from all over the world use the internet. Some have the latest computers with extremely fast connections, while others may have very old computers with a slow dial-up connection. You want your home page design to accommodate the slowest connection. This will mean graphics with small file sizes so that your page will load fast. For the same reason, it is generally not a good idea to include a splash page.

Remember, your introduction should be the first thing that visitors to your site should see. If your have a large graphic that loads first, it may take a long time to download. If your visitors get frustrated waiting for your website to appear, they may leave before they ever find out what your site is about.

While you want your home page design to be attractive and to project the right image for your target audience, you also want to make sure that your page loads fast. If you want to use graphics to help portray your image, make sure that they are small in size and load after the text on your page.

Write A Good Title Tag For Your Home Page

When you work on your home page design, you need to put extra attention into how you write your title tag (learn more in our lesson on meta tags optimization). The words in your title tag are displayed on the very top bar of the browser (the window title) and help to emphasis your unique offerings. You may consider using your introduction or mission statement for your title tag for your home page.

This overview on home page design should help you with the basic layout and design considerations. Using this information, you can now build your home page to suit your target audience and your website needs.

In our next lesson, we will discuss the basic considerations in choosing file names for your pages.

Next: Meta keywords advice
previous page: Web Page Design and Navigation

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