Last summer, I attended a really cool digital marketing conference with all kinds of topics from social media content to digital layout to media to future technologies. One of the best sessions was about website front page design. I thought I knew a lot before walking in. Boy, was I glad I went!
To summarize my big take-away... the seminar leader asked us to look at a photograph he was going to flash on the screen for 1/16 of a second. He asked us to see how much we could remember about that blink of a photo in that short of a moment. It was amazing what most of us recalled. It was a VW bus. Old. Dented. In an ancient garage. It was white and blue. Dirty. Facing to the right. All that in 1/16 of a second.
So let's take a look at your website. Specifically, your front page ABOVE the screen line. That front page IS your new calling card. What comes up on that screen is how people find you today. It's their decision point. Not your brick and mortar store front. Not your paper card in an old Rolodex. Not your Yellow Pages ad. Not your print catalog. Your FRONT PAGE leads them into your world... or it doesn't. (And people rarely scroll beyond the top images, unless they're really interested. So what's on top, front and center is CRUCIAL!)
So what is the snapshot of your business? What shows on either that tiny screen in your hand... or the laptop screen or a monitor or even a tablet... (which, by the way, are considered "accessory viewing screens"... not the primary ones anymore. SmartPhones are what's used to view websites 2/3 of the time nowadays!)... is what drives them to go ON or turn OFF.
If you have all the important stuff that drives them to action or a next step on the front page, you're IN. If you don't - and have to dig and hunt to find it - you might lose the prospect. They only have time for those businesses who make it EASY for them.
SO, what shows on that front page is VITAL. Here are 3 guidelines:
1. Are there more photos than copy? Too much copy is not read. Just like the VW bus in that 1/16th of a second, your website has to SHOW what you do, not TELL what you do. We are in VISUAL world. Reading takes too much time. (It is important when we are trying to make a purchasing decision, like find your phone number, or see product specs, or the price, or an address... but overall - remember this ... "PICTURES ATTRACT. Copy sells." Your front page should SCREAM what you sell pictorially.
2. Easy peazy. Is it easy to navigate? Is there a short menu of website sections? YES! That's what we're trained to look for. Are there buttons that make sense... to get them to one area of the website to the other? Can they find your phone number, your address right on the front page? Or is it buried?
3. Words are for the birds. Are there lots of words on your front page? Paragraphs of copy? Get rid of 'em! If you must, they go on your inside pages, when people have arrived at the section they want. NOT on your front page. What works? Short captions get people to feature pages.
OK, now go look at your web page. What would you change, now that you've read this blog?
Mary Ellen Sokalski
Diva of Direct Marketing.