Your website’s homepage doubles as your virtual storefront. And once you manage to attract visitors to that storefront, it’s essential to keep them engaged. Superficial as it may seem, people pay attention to website design and aesthetics. To expand on our real estate analogy: design can boost (or kill) your homepage’s curb appeal.
38% of people say they will stop engaging with a website if its layout or content is unattractive. And just like that, you lost an opportunity to convert them.
Moreover, you don’t have much time to wow your visitors and convince them to stick around, as it takes them only 17 milliseconds to form an opinion about the design of your website.
Let’s discuss some homepage design tactics that will help you boost visitor engagement and improve your conversion rates.
Hook Visitors with Emotion
Emotions play an essential role in decision-making.
According to a study, 95% of purchase decisions are subconscious, while the most important factor that affects this process is emotion. That’s why using an emotional hook on your homepage has the power to encourage your visitors to take action. In other words, implementing some principles of emotional marketing is what will allow you to connect with your audience on a more profound level and drive engagement.
FOMO, or fear of missing out, is a great illustration of how emotional marketing works. By tapping into customers’ anxiety over not experiencing something fun, interesting, and enjoyable the others are, brands can boost their conversions.
Don’t shy away from incorporating negative emotions in your homepage content, as they will create a sense of urgency that will prompt your visitors to look for a solution or relief. For example, evoking sadness in your customers will make them empathize, which is an approach that many charities and animal welfare organizations leverage. Similarly, playing on fear and uncertainty will position your brand as a beacon of hope and comfort.
ATH hooks readers with a question that makes them feel a good kind of fear and risk. “Are
you getting enough protein?” This simple headline both warns potential customers they might be at risk of protein deficiency and comforts them by insinuating that ATH can help solve this issue.
Coca-Cola’s homepage, on the other hand, capitalizes on joy, happiness, and feel-good moments with friends and family. The brand does it so well that it has become synonymous with the holiday spirit.
Describe Your Product Using Video
60% of businesses rely on video to engage their customers.
Numerous other stats and studies illustrate this format’s dominance over other types of content. For example, TikTok, the wildly popular short-form video platform, has more than 1 billion active monthly users. But what’s even more important, TikTok is the most engaging social media channel, with an average session length of almost 11 minutes. This clearly indicates that people love watching short-from videos.
Your homepage can greatly benefit from including a video in terms of visitor engagement. You can use explainer videos, video testimonials, or a brand introduction.
Here are a couple of best practices for an engaging homepage video.
Have a Clear Value Prop
To create an effective homepage video that will immediately capture viewers’ attention, immediately explain what your business is all about and how they will benefit from it. Inform your audience and help them understand your value proposition and key selling point.
A good angle would be to address your audience’s pain points and discuss how you solve these problems.
Don’t Use Industry Jargon
You can engage your visitors only if they understand what you’re trying to say. So, don’t try to impress them with technical terms. Use the language that resonates with them and be conversational.
The homepage is usually your visitors’ first touchpoint with your brand. This means that they are very likely in the awareness stage of their buyer’s journey. Don’t overwhelm them by sharing unnecessary details. Keep your video short, sweet, and to the point, or you’ll outstay your welcome.
Menlo Coaching follows all these guidelines in their homepage video. It’s only 1:08 minutes long and manages to highlight how prospects can benefit from working with the company. Plus, there’s no high-flown language — it’s clear and conversational.
Use Negative Space Wisely
Clutter is one of the biggest enemies of a good homepage design, which is why less is very much more in this case.
We’ve already mentioned the problem of overwhelming your audience with too much information, and this applies to the choice of homepage elements. If you cramp your design with different fonts, many images, and lots of content, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Your visitors will be confused and distracted, and this will naturally prevent them from engaging with your website.
Negative space will help you declutter your homepage design and allow you to organize the content and other elements in a logical way while helping visitors to categorize the information and make sense of it.
Here’s how you can achieve clarity and Marie Condo your homepage design with white space.
Readability is essential for engagement. If your visitors have trouble reading your content, they will bounce off and look for a solution to their problems somewhere else.
By implementing white space between lines of text, that is, increasing line height, you’re improving the readability of your homepage content. However, make sure not to exaggerate. Too much white space between lines can interrupt the reading flow, which is equally bad.
Drive Visitors’ Attention to Particular Page Elements
When prospects land on your homepage, you don’t want them to scroll and click back and forth aimlessly. You want to focus their attention on essential elements, engage them, and nudge them toward taking action.
To put a desired page element into the spotlight, surround it with negative space. That’s how your visitors will spot it right away. Negative space elegantly removes all distractions and drives user engagement.
Establish a Visual Hierarchy
Most people scan web pages rather than reading every word on them.
So, optimizing your homepage for this way of consuming content is crucial for visitor engagement. Using negative space to create a visual hierarchy will help your audience navigate the content and easily find what they’re looking for. A symmetrical layout enhances the general flow of information and mimics the way visitors typically scan the page, thus making it easier for the brain to process and comprehend what it sees.
Stutterheim’s homepage has been designed with the best negative space principles in mind. The first and most important detail is at the top of the page, where they want visitors to see that they’re offering 50% off. Below this block of negative space are two other elements, navigating visitors to products for either women or men. This way, customers are prompted to visit the desired section of the site to discover more.
Entice Your Mobile Users
Did you know that 75% of Americans say they bring their mobile phones to the bathroom?
This somewhat gross stat speaks volumes about the importance of mobile devices in today’s marketing world. In other words, if you want to boost visitor engagement, you have to make sure your homepage (and the entire website, for that matter) is optimized for all those tethered to their smartphones. By failing to cater to an entire population and settling for a poor mobile UI, you risk destroying engagement on these devices. 57% of people say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly optimized mobile website.
To avoid setting such a bad example, implement the following tactic.
Optimize the Thumb Zone
Almost 50% of smartphone users prefer to hold their devices with one hand. Researchers found that thumbs account for 75% of mobile interactions. So, you should build your website to cater to this habit and place all your critical elements in this zone to facilitate clicking and scrolling.
Opt for the Right Size of Critical Elements
Now that we’re aware that thumbs are crucial drivers of interaction, implement this knowledge when designing key homepage elements. While it’s true that some devices have smaller screens, the thing is that these elements shouldn’t be small. Quite the opposite.
To minimize the fat finger error and eliminate the need for users to pinch and zoom your website, ensure elements such as call-to-action buttons, links, or navigation buttons are big enough.
Prevent the Long-Scroll Issue
Long scrolling might be suitable for keeping readers’ focus on regular content. But, if you expect your visitors to take action or complete a task, then it’s much better to avoid this tactic because they tend to get frustrated or lose interest quickly.
Use the tap to expand functionality or split your content/tasks into several screens.
Declutter Tab Bars
The best tip for designing tab bars would be to curb your creativity. This isn’t the place to experiment with some creative solutions. Instead of that, go for a clean design and name your tabs to improve user experience. By opting for icons instead of labels, you risk confusing your visitors.
Evernote’s mobile site homepage checks all the boxes. It’s clean and intuitive. Negative space allows for better readability and precise button-clicking. The tab bar is expandable, and there are labels plus icons for every segment so that visitors can easily find what they’re looking for.
Don’t Go into Too Much Product Detail
No matter how proud you are about your product or service, refrain from going into too much detail about it. Yes, it’s important for your potential customers to understand how your solution works, but not at this point of their buyer’s journey.
When they land on your homepage, all they want to know is how they will benefit from your product or service and what’s in it for them. So, instead of listing all the specs and features, it’s much better to craft your homepage messaging from a customer benefit perspective while giving just the right amount of product/technical info.
This way, you’ll avoid losing your visitors’ attention or alienating them with details they’re not particularly interested in learning, at least while they’re still in the awareness stage.
Dodow is a sleeping aid that projects blue light synchronized with the user’s breathing, thus quickly and easily inducing sleep. The homepage doesn’t flood visitors with too much detail on the logic and technology behind the gadget. It simply promises people who struggle to fall asleep or suffer from insomnia an effective solution for the problem.
Generate Trust Immediately
Visitors who check out your homepage don’t know much (or possibly anything) about your brand or products. This lack of familiarity can cast a shadow of doubt on whether your brand is legit and credible.
This is particularly the case if you’re running a small online store and your potential customers are scattered across the globe. It’s easier for established brands to generate trust, but you have to earn it.
The best way to show your visitors that your company is trustworthy is by letting your existing happy customers speak in favor of your brand. And you can do this by leveraging different kinds of social proof. Given that 95% of consumers read reviews before purchasing, this tactic can tremendously boost engagement and conversions.
Implement several social proof elements on your homepage to alleviate your audience’s fears over doing business with your company.
Take a cue from Bay Alarm Medical, whose homepage is packed with social proof. Besides the Google Review widget that allows the brand to display reviews customers leave on their GMB profile, there are also three different video testimonials by happy customers and an earned media video from NBC Today. All these instantly build trust and convince potential customers to explore the website further.
Focus on Page Speed
How fast (or slow) does your website load?
This metric has a tremendous impact on visitor engagement, user experience, and, consequently, your bottom line. Almost 70% of consumers say that page loading speed influences their willingness to purchase from an online vendor. Hence, it’s safe to conclude that a slow-loading website won’t see many conversions.
As speed is a relative category, it’s a good idea to establish a frame of reference to understand what qualifies a slow website. 53% of online shoppers expect a website to load in 3 seconds or less, so if you want to keep your customers engaged, bear this benchmark in mind. The same survey found that 1 in 2 people abandon a website that takes more than 6 seconds to load.
To improve your website loading speed, implement some of the following tactics.
Get Rid of Unused Code
Declutter your code database and remove any unused code, since it’s responsible for code bloat that can significantly slow down your website and make it sluggish. By performing regular clean-ups, you’ll ensure everything’s like clockwork.
Keep Things Simple
The principle of simplicity doesn’t apply only to design — usability can also benefit from it. Adding a lot of effects, features, elements, and fancy details to your website can compromise loading speed. Rethink and trim down unnecessary features before you actually implement them.
Large, full-size images are one of the culprits behind your poor loading times. Optimize them by compressing their size and using JPGs instead of PNGs. When it comes to compression methods, use either lossy or lossless, as they will reduce the size of your images without sacrificing their quality.
Optimize Your Content
Long-form content can also slow your website, so make sure to optimize it for speed. Instead of displaying blog posts in their entirety, truncate them and include snippets with links leading to the full post. It’s also a good idea to break down a long blog post into multiple web pages.
Use a Content Delivery Network
A content delivery network (CDN) is a group of interconnected, geographically distributed servers that host website files in different locations. The fact that your website files aren’t hosted in a single data center means that when a visitor clicks on your website, it will load from a server that’s geographically closest to that visitor, thus speeding up loading time.
Many of these homepage design tactics are simple to implement, and yet, they’re frequently overlooked in favor of some more complex methods. Don’t neglect this low-hanging fruit because it has the ability to move the needle and increase visitor engagement on your homepage. Apart from engaging your prospects, a homepage that’s well-designed will keep them coming back and turn them into loyal customers.