For most websites, the homepage is the first page that the users land on. It is also the fixed north star that the users can return to if they get lost. Your Homepage has to answer these five questions that every user has in their head when they enter the site for the first time:
- What is this?
- What do they have here?
- What can I do here?
- Why should I be here — and not somewhere else?
- Where do I start…
- …if I want to search?
- …if I want to browse?
- …if I want to sample their best stuff?
It’s the job of the homepage to answer these questions.
There are three crucial places on the homepage where users expect to find explicit statements about the site:
- The Tagline: good taglines are clear and informative, and explain what your site or organization does. They are just long enough, but not too long, and convey differentiation — they don’t sound generic. It helps if they are personable, lively, and (sometimes) witty.
- The Welcome blurb: make sure it’s something that conveys what the site does.
- The “Learn More”: innovative products tend to require a fair amount of explanation. People have become accustomed to watching short videos on their computers and mobile devices, and are often willing to watch one on the Homepage.
NN Group published the following list of 10 guidelines for homepage usability, which doubles up as a great checklist before you launch:
- Include a one-sentence tagline
- Write a page title with good visibility in search engines and bookmark lists
- Group all corporate information in one distinct area
- Emphasize the site’s top high-priority tasks
- Include a search input box
- Show examples of real site content
- Begin link names with the most important keyword
- Offer easy access to recent homepage features
- Don’t over-format critical content, such as navigation areas
- Use meaningful graphics
This is the list in action on their own site:
NNGroup Homepage, implementing most of their guidelines.
Remember that the homepage is a shared resource between all departments within a company — at least when it comes to what’s displayed first. Anything on top of the homepage gets promoted the most, so as a team you will have to focus and decide what needs to surface at the top.