10 design tweaks you can make to your homepage right now
When your site starts to feel stale and outdated, it’s tempting to tear the whole thing down and start from scratch. But total overhauls can be costly, time-consuming, and unnecessary when you already have a good base to work from.
Before you set about reinventing the proverbial wheel, try tweaking what you’ve got. Your homepage is a good place to start. It’s your site’s virtual front door, and in most cases it sees the majority of your traffic. The small adjustments you make here can do as much (and sometimes more) for your site than any radical redesign ever could.
Without further ado, here are 10 simple design tweaks that can have a big impact on your site’s aesthetics — and analytics.
Get your best stuff above the fold
When you only have 50 milliseconds and 700 pixels to inform someone’s snap judgment about your site, you should lead with your ace. Do visitors have to scroll or search high and low to find basic information like who you are and what your site’s about? Not good. Make the “above the fold” section the best part of your site and give them a reason to scroll down and stick around.
Break up the text
Big blocks of text are a turn-off. Even if you have only 100 words of perfectly punctuated, beautifully wrought copy on your homepage, if it’s presented as a single chunk of unformatted text, you’re going to lose people to the back button.
Instead, split paragraphs into bite-sized segments that are easy to read and digest. Bullet points, numbered lists, and graphics are all great for breaking unwieldy sentences down to their most important parts. And remember, white space is well-used space, not wasted space.
Clean up your copy
When it comes to copy, “high-quality” copy isn’t just about proper spelling and grammar — it’s about building trust. If you’re asking people to provide personal information in an enquiry form, you’ll jeopardize their trust and your professionalism if the copy is riddled with careless typos and poor grammar. Be clear, concise and careful with your copy and people will be far more likely to linger long enough to hear what you have to say.
Add a quality visual
Visuals are key to creating a well-designed homepage, but not all visuals are made equal. As Jakob Nielsen’s eye-tracking studies showed, people pay a lot more attention to photos of real people doing real things than they do to the feel-good, decorative and jazzed-up images that are typical of stock photography. A photo is absolutely worth a thousand words — but if that photo isn’t the right photo, it’s going to say the wrong things.
Most people underestimate the value of good typography on their site. If you’ve got the words down and they’re legible, you can cross it off your list, right? Wrong. According to Information Architects, “optimizing typography is optimizing readability, accessibility, usability and overall graphic balance.” Safe to say, there’s a little more to it than simple legibility.
Short of employing a professional typographer or graphic designer, you can optimize your site’s typography by taking a critical look at fonts, weights, colours and spacing. Note things like contrast, line-height and typeface pairing, then check out these great resources to improve the type on your site.
Give it a fresh coat of paint
Ask any psychologist and they’ll tell you that colours evoke similar responses in people. Yellow is for optimism, red is for excitement, green is for peace, balance and creativity. But it doesn’t always work that way — personal preference, cultural differences and context all muddy the effect colours have on us.
Still, making a change to the colour scheme of your site can have a big impact on how people perceive and interact with it. Take the oft-cited example of the green and red buttons. The red button outperformed the green button by 21 percent, meaning for that site with that audience red was the right choice. For your site, green or any of the other 16,777,216 colour variations might work better. Try out a few new shades and see how your audience responds.
Add a call-to-action button (or improve the one you already have)
A strong call-to-action tells people what to do next, whether that’s buying a product, signing up for a newsletter, or just learning more about you. If you don’t already have one, you needed one yesterday. If you do have one, it’s always good to review best practices and see how yours stacks up. Text matters, shape matters, and colour really matters, so run some A/B tests and see what works best for you.
The speed of your site is closely tied to its success. Visitors aren’t going to stick around and wait for your homepage to load when they can find the same information elsewhere in less time. How do you speed things up and maintain your competitive edge? Optimizing images can be time-consuming if your site has a large number of pages, but if you’ve got a clean homepage, it shouldn’t take long. Tools like smush.it and TinyJPG both make quick work of shrinking bulky, oversized images.
Go easy on the links
Links are good for SEO, but on your homepage, they can be distracting and send visitors packing when they only just arrived. Simplicity is key. You may also want to scrutinize your primary navigation links with your visitors in mind. Get rid of any unnecessary pages and make sure your links are clear and user-friendly.
Add social sharing buttons
Want to win friends and influence people? That’s a tall order for a single site admin, but not so unrealistic if you put your visitors to work for you. By allowing them to share your site to social media, you’ll be expanding your reach to new networks that you wouldn’t have been able to access on your own. There are all kinds of share buttons out there — including these beauties — so shop around and be sure to consider placement, customization and tracking as you make your decision.