The First Few Seconds
They say that when you meet someone for the first time they make a judgement about you based on the first few seconds of meeting you, whether you’ve opened your mouth to speak or not. The same applies to your website. That person makes a judgement on their first ever visit to your site within the first few seconds.
They decide whether they’re in the right place or not and whether to continue exploring the site.
Making a first impression on your website really does count. You can’t ever repeat that first experience. Just like that first real meeting, if you lost them the first time, it’s an uphill struggle to convince them that their first impression was wrong. This article is about how to make a really good impression when someone visits your website.
Making a First Impression with your Website
We know that first impressions count, so what’s the best way to ensure your website gives off the best first impression for first time visitors? The homepage is the most important page. The area known as ‘above the fold’ is the most important part of the homepage. It’s the part of the page the visitor first sees without having to scroll or click on anything. It’s the gateway to your greater content and needs to be enticing and appealing for people who have the problem you solve. The main purpose of the home page is to let them know they’re in the right place so that they want to see more and explore further by scrolling down or clicking on a link either on the page or the menu bar. And you have a few seconds to achieve that. Failure means they’ve clicked off your site.
Here are my top 5 tips for the above the fold area of your homepage.
- Dominating Statement – This should be attention grabbing and speak directly and succinctly about the problem you solve and who for. It should dominate your logo. Your logo is not the important thing here as nobody except you (and your logo designer) care about your logo. A new person arriving at your website want to know if you can solve their problem.
- Image – Pictures paint a thousand words and the best pictures are of a person who looks like your typical/ideal client. The person needs to look happy and welcoming, like they’ve had their problem resolved by you. If you sell a product, then people using your product successfully. Or a picture of you, looking directly out at you. It’s worth getting a professional photographer to do this. Particularly if your business or service is you.
- Fast Load Times – In this culture of we can have everything now, it’s vital that your home page load quickly. Things that can slow down page speed are images over 100kb in size, video that autoplays, some social share widgets.
- Mobile Responsive – Statistics show that over 60% of us use our phones to browse the internet so check what your homepage (and the rest of your website) looks like on a smart phone and tablet. Things to check for are can the text be read without having to pinch and zoom or move the screen about. What appears in that first screen without scrolling. Do the images work and if you’ve embedded text on the image, can that still be read on a small screen.
- Call To Action – What is the next thing you want the visitor to do? Make it absolutely clear. In the same way you wouldn’t leave visitors to explore your house on their own. You would guide them around, showing them the best bits first, what they need to know, invite them to have some tea perhaps. Exactly the same with your homepage. Make it really clear what the next thing they must do – scroll down, click a link. However, don’t give them too much choice. Too much choice leaves the person dithering between options and the easiest thing is to do nothing, which is not what we want them to do.
So there you have my top 5 tips for making a first impression on your homepage.
If you’re interested in learning about more ways you can improve your website, read this article about why sidebars don’t work anymore.