How to design an engaging website
What can you do in 10 seconds?
Not a great deal. Drink a glass of water, send a short text, choose a link to click. In terms of websites, lots of research has shown that people don’t spend much time looking at home pages. The studies vary but one thing is certain, you don’t have long to engage your visitors.
Does your website have what they want?
We design websites in close partnership with our clients, and part of this process is helping them understand how their customers will use their website.
The fact that most website visitors don't spend much time on the home page is sometimes hard to understand, but it’s quite simple – visitors are looking for something and your website needs to convince them quickly that you have it.
If you do have it, they click to another page. If you don’t, they leave your website.
The “Three Questions”
When people visit your website, they tend to ask themselves three questions:
- Who are you?
- What’s your product / service?
- Why should I stay here, buy your product, engage with your brand?
These three questions heavily influence home page design, a good home page is almost an advert for your product or company. Take a look at the Spotify home page:
It’s clearly branded (who are you?), with a big proposition statement and image that communicates exactly what they are selling (what’s your product / service) and the benefits (why should I buy your product?).
The navigation menu is simple and focuses on the most likely things a potential customer is looking for, with a strong calls to action make it clear what the next step is:
- Get Spotify free
Simple but effective – there’s no confusion as to what to do next.
Don’t go, please stay.
The purpose of a home page is to act as a springboard for other parts of your website. It does this by promoting your product or service, which leads to the question “What if we don’t always want to promote the same product?”
A common solution to this is using the header area of a page to promote a specific product or service, as demonstrated by the Marks & Spencer website below. This allows you to promote specific things permanently or seasonally, keeping your website up to date with customer needs and trends, and if you have multiple areas to promote consider a carousel as an option.
Research has shown that carousels attract very few clicks, however they do get noticed and can help reinforce products, services and messages. A good rule of thumb is that your home page should still work if the carousel were removed.
Appeal to your customers, or lose them. You decide.
For the home page, visual appeal is vital. People are designed to make quick decisions based on first impressions. If your website has poor imagery, weak messages, messy layouts or sloppy copy, your potential customers are likely to go elsewhere.
To get the most out of your home page, make sure it:
- Looks Professional
- Uses high quality appealing imagery (stock photography is readily available, there’s no excuse)
- Has simple, benefit driven messages
- Includes clear call to actions using graphics and text
This is nothing new, it’s the classic AIDA marketing tactic – Attention Interest Desire Action.
To sum up:
- Most of your website visitors will not spend long on your homepage, 10 seconds or less in most cases
- Your home page must answer the “Three Questions”
- Remember your home page is an advertising medium, not an information tool
- Visual appeal, compelling propositions and clear calls to action will keep visitors on your site
So, does your home page pass the test?