3 things you absolutely need on your home page (and what you don't)
There’s a ton of information floating around out there on the interwebs when it comes to copywriting (oh, hey) and website design and how you should lay out your home page and what exact elements need to be on it and in what order and what color your ideal client will respond to and whether or not you should do about a bajillion things.
It’s overwhelming, and it’s no wonder a lot of us get stuck in analysis paralysis.
But you can easily create a home page that feels good for you AND your ideal client. And it doesn’t involve following a very strict blueprint or adhering to a format.
When you’re just trying to get your website up and running, trying to DO EVERYTHING is too much. All you really want is a home page that’s clear.
But you’re stuck trying to figure out what content you should have. Do you need social proof? Hundreds of testimonials? Fancy graphics?
What should you call your content? Should you call your home page your home page? Is it a landing page? And what about all the links in your menu? What should those be called?
And what do you call yourself? “Coach” doesn’t really say everything you’re capable of doing. You’re pretty sure no title would ever encompass how awesome you are, and you need your client to know you are seriously a badass.
So you sit and ponder. You change everything, once, twice, three times a lady. All the while, you’re not making any progress. In fact, it feels like you might actually be going backward. All the questioning and scoping out other coaches’ home pages and comparing yourself to them because OMG their design looks so freakin’ professional and their headshots are so glamorous and you just took some shots in front of a colored brick wall with your iPhone and, well, there’s really no competition.
While it’s true a pretty design and some nice-looking headshots make you look a little more professional, it’s not ABSOLUTELY necessary when you’re just trying to launch your thing.
For real. But here’s what is.
An opt-in – above AND below the fold
Your goal is to get clients, right? But let’s be honest – most people aren’t going to randomly click on to your site and immediately hire you. As if!
You know the research: It takes 7 to 12 touches before someone is ready to buy from you.
So you need to have a way to get in front of them continually to build that know, like, and trust factor and, of course, the way to do that is with your email list.
Which is why you need to have an opt-in in TWO places on your home page.
The first is above the fold (a fancy newspaper term that really just means the top half). You’ll typically see this as the banner image (or hero image) on the page with a compelling headline (i.e., not “Sign up for my list!”) and a button. Pretty clean and simple.
The other place? In the footer. Don’t assume someone is gonna come to your site, scroll down the page, and then scroll back up to sign up for your list if they like what they see. Make it easy for them and give them an option to sign up once they get to the bottom of the page.
Clarity on what you do + who you help
Maybe you’re a yoga teacher and you specialize in helping college kids combat that pesky Freshman Fifteen with power yoga flows they can fit in before their 8 a.m. class. (Where were you when I was in college? And why was I taking so many 8 a.m. classes?)
But when someone visits your site, all they see is a bunch of pictures of you doing tree pose in the forest.
I mean, that’s great and all (yay yoga! yay, nature!), but us humans, we’re selfish creatures. We want to know what you can do for us. Me, me, me!
You’re going to significantly up your chances that someone will actually sign up for your email list if they know you’re offering something specific to them.
So get clear on what you do and who you help so you can tailor your home page to that person. Instead of making your page you-centric, focus on your client. Offer them something that is going to help them with a specific problem so they know, hey, this yogi gets me!
A reason to stick around
Let’s say you did have a really amazing opt-in for your Freshman Fifteen audience, like a free 15-minute flow they can do after Taco Tuesday in the dining hall (or after they’ve drowned one too many PBRs), and your site visitor signs up.
Unless you’ve got something else right up front that really piques their interest, they’re headed right for that close window button and they’re on their way.
Don’t let them get away! Give them a reason to spend more time poking around on your site.
Maybe it’s a section of your blog dedicated to toxin-releasing twists. Maybe it’s a library of free yoga videos. Maybe it’s an option to book you for a private yoga party in their dorm.
You’ve gotta know your client and what they’re looking for so you can put that content front and center!
Nice to haves
Okay, so earlier I mentioned testimonials, headshots, and a fancy design. I’d be remiss if I told you that you DON’T need these. But do you need them right away when you’re probably bootstrapping and hustling to book clients?
A professional headshot; a clean, non-cluttered design; and clients singing your praises are all nice to have. And you should have them when your budget allows for a design upgrade and your business is booming with clients tripping over themselves to work with you.
But they won’t make or break you when you’re just starting out. As long as your home page is clear with compelling calls to action (and I guess not too hideous), you’re in business.
Three things you DON’T need
Have you ever been to a site and the home page was so LOUD and there was so much going on it was kind of confusing and you couldn’t hit the back button fast enough?
Let’s not do that with your home page.
Your home page is one of the most-visited pages on your website, and that might make you think you’ve gotta cram alllllllll the stuff on it. But when there’s too much going on, your client doesn’t know what to do and so they might not do anything.
Instead of having your blog archive on your home page, why not link to your blog as one of the reasons to stick around? If your content is on point, your latest blog post is probably pretty enticing to your visitors.
You could also put your latest blog in an announcement bar or even a sidebar, depending on your site’s layout. But every single post you’ve ever written? Or even the last month’s worth of content? Information overload, my friend.
Similarly, there’s really no need to list all your services on your home page. You’ve probably got a link to your services page in your menu, and working with you is PROBABLY one of the reasons people might stick around. So, yes, definitely give them a little teaser and let them know they CAN work with you. But don’t go full monty on ‘em, eh?
One more thing your home page could probably do without: your Instagram feed.
I know, I know. Don’t hate me. You spend a ton of time curating that feed, waiting for the right moment to capture that tree pose mid-tree, getting people to follow you…
But even if it’s a really nice visual and you’re proud of it, people might click away from your site. And you want them ON your site. Your Instagram feed should bring people to your site; your site shouldn’t send people to your Instagram feed.
If you’re really hell bent on having that feed feature somewhere, there are other places you could stick it. Maybe your contact page or in a sidebar or on the bottom of your blog posts.
Wherever you decide to display your feed, make sure it’s not overpowering that page’s call to action. People get distracted easily so avoid putting your fancy pictures on your services page or your about page where you really, really, really want them do something other than follow you on social media, okay? Okay.
Now that you know what you need on your home page, what’s a luxury, and what you can really truly do without, it’s time to do a mini audit!
Does your home page have an opt-in? Is your opt-in easy to see and in more than one spot? Is your copy clear and compelling? Do visitors know what you do and how you can help them? Are you giving them a reason to stick around? Where are you leading them (and is that where you want them to go)?
Pick one thing that you can improve quickly and do it!
Not sure what you need to improve? Maybe you’re overwhelmed because you feel like your home page really isn’t clear but you’re stuck on how to make it clearer? Let’s talk! I can help you get a stronger home page by writing clear and compelling copy that’s infused with personality and that your ideal clients will love. Check out Home Page That Hooks right this way.