What Makes a Good Home Page?

You get about 3 seconds to make a great first impression, so the home page must capture the heart and mind of your visitors. If it does, you have another 3 seconds to arouse enough curiosity to compel your visitor to want to know more. The solution to their problem must be obvious—both in words and design. It must work well, on all kinds of devices and for all levels of user expertise.

great Home PageEmotional connection. In the time it takes to make a first impression, a visitor wants answers to 3 questions: 1) who are you? 2) can you solve my problem? and 3) if you can, answer 3 visitor questions: who you are, what you do, and what’s in it for them. Visitors come to your page because they have a problem that needs solved. They are looking for a business or a person or a cause that will satisfy a need and make an emotional connection that motivates them to dive deeper into the site.

Meaningful language. People connect visually, but they also connect through a common language. The home page is not the place for jargon or boasting, and definitely not the place for long paragraphs. Visitors will quickly scan for words and phrases, then buttons or links to learn more.

Respectful. Avoid the use of flashy objects that move, make noise, or complicate or compromise the connection experience. If you offer a video, it’s considered bad manners to auto-start it. Same for audio. Let your visitor decide when or whether to engage in these sensory experiences.

Device friendly. Visitors come to your site on their desktop computer at work, through a tablet at home or in the field, or a smartphone from about anywhere. A site that is not easy to navigate using a mouse or a finger, or can’t adjust to any screen size, lowers the probability that the visitor will stay on your site long enough to solve a problem, make a purchase, or engage at all.

Actionable. Solve problems or offer information that make your visitors’ lives easier, like an obvious or clickable phone number, a sign up form that doesn’t ask for more than an email address, a social media link that actually works. Keep search engines happy too with relevant keywords, a textual site map, and a well-researched and tested page description meta tag.

Your home page gets the bulk of site traffic, making it undoubtedly the most important page of your website. This is where you get visitors to dig deeper. This is where you convert traffic to leads, and leads to customers.

The Mobile Influence 2017

mobile influence 2017“Mobile to overtake fixed Internet access by 2014!” That bold prediction from a technology trends analyst was made in 2008. In 2017, we aren’t even asking whether mobile marketing is important. We know it is!

Anyone who markets products or services is challenged to adapt to the new realities of a connected world and the expectations that mobile presents to them and their customer.

There’s a word for mobile design. It’s called “responsive design” because whatever goes on a screen needs to adapt or “respond” to changing screen sizes and shapes. In the last few years, responsive design changed our approach to almost everything we did, from the shape of a logo to the sequence of information. Users were finding it easier to scroll on a tablet or smartphone than press a link, so we responded with leaner, cleaner layouts, brief top level content linking to longer underlying content, and more calls to action.

The best-designed site is worthless until it’s found, and Google rules search results. Last year, just when Google was happily delivering relevant search results to everyone, some unscrupulous characters hell-bent on gaming the system built massive workarounds in an effort to dominate the first page of Google. Google reacted. Now they trust no one. Want to be first on Google? Here’s what you need:

  1. Tenure. If you’re a brand-new site, it’s going to take time. Those sites who have the oldest “index age” get to be first. When you’re new, you have to work harder.
  2. Authority. You’re an authority if others turn to you for advice or information. Quality links from a variety of sites qualify. If you don’t have these links, there’s a pathway to acquire them. Tedious work where persistence pays off.
  3. Relevance. Relevant content is authoritative, well-written, error-free, never plagiarized, and about who you are, what you do, and how your products solve problems. Skimping on content is like tossing off a line to the dock and wondering why your boat slips away. Content must be well-written, lengthy, keyword centric, and highly engaging so that Google “sees” people spending time on your site.

Lastly, flat design ruled the market in 2016. In 2017 a new metaphor came to town: Material Design. It’s about simplicity, with subtle, natural, visual clues that help the eye’s navigation—textures, shading, contrasts, hues and so on. On the other hand, we prefer what we call honest design. No fads, just the right design to advance the brand.

Mobile-designed Sites

Do you use a smartphone? A recent survey shows that 46% of Americans own smartphones (Pew Research, March 1, 2012). In the USA, 101 million people (13+ years old) use smartphones, and almost 50 million report that they use their mobile browser (TechCrunch, March 6, 2012). Are we making it easy for these web surfers to view our sites?

We all use smartphones to view websites differently than we do on our desktop or even laptop computers. Mobile browsers are used for shorter, more targeted browsing. When we’re away and have a few moments of wait time, we pull out our smartphone and check a website (or app, or game!).

When mobile browsing, we are looking for what’s new, to find directions or a phone number, or to catch a quick (meaning short!) read that we’ve been meaning to get to, or to link with something that catches our eye, i.e., specific to one’s location. Been meaning to buy a product? Want to register for that event? Need to pay that invoice? All can easily be done by a visitor accessing your website via their smartphone.

smartphone

easy to read and navigate

Mobile devices have constraints different from desktop/laptop browsing. Smartphones, due to their much smaller size and cellular network, have a lesser rate of data throughput (bandwidth); they just don’t download pages as quickly. Obviously they have a smaller screen size.

Well-designed sites show well on mobile browsers. Mobile-designed sites go a step further to present the information in a way that displays even better on the mobile screen, and may not present all of the pages, large images, or the entire information presented on the ‘normal’ site. Typically mobile pages are presented in a one-column format rather than a typical two- or three-column design. Navigation is also treated differently for easier clicking.

ActiveCanvas builds mobile sites using the same content as the conventional site (so there’s no duplication) and without adding a lot of code that needs to be downloaded (so there’s not extra download time). The mobile sites are responsive to the needs of mobile users, and any extra code stays on the server- not on the mobile device.

Got your smartphone handy? Check out our site (www.activecanvas.com) on your mobile browser. Let us know what you think, and let us know what smartphone you are using.