20 tips for managing a website homepage
A website's homepage is there to drive users deeper, not drive them away. Managing a homepage requires a blend of awareness of the audience need, planning, attention to detail, editorial flair and adaptability. It's the window on your organisation's output and the tool for winning and retaining your audience.
Ian Davies offers his 20 top tips on managing a homepage.
1: Be accurate
Your homepage represents your organisation’s editorial and brand values. Ensuring that your content is free from errors, broken links and poorly presented images is vital. Avoid complacency - it’s not uncommon for problems to appear in a live environment, even though there were no problems in a staging or pre-production environment. Check all images, text and links before AND after publishing - and involve a ‘second-pair-of-eyes’ (a colleague) to verify.
If your homepage looks broken users will think that the rest of the site will be too
2: Allow users to construct their own experience
Think what users might want to find out, not what you want to tell them. Print and television are linear mediums, where editors deliver a defined and complete narrative to users. On the web, users construct their own experience and will normally visit a website with a goal in mind. Your homepage should expose the best content you have and make it easy for users to action.
Think what users might want to find out, not what you want to tell them
3: Use short sentences and get to the point
A homepage is a gateway to a website’s content and not the place for lengthy, wordy editorial. Sentences should be as concise as you can make them - using only the words you need to get essential information across and drive users deeper into your site.
Spare the words and speed the journey
4: Deliver strong calls to action
The purpose of the homepage is to encourage users to click through to subsequent pages and content. Promotions (sometimes called promos) should not attempt to tell the story - they should introduce the story or event and entice the user to click through to the content you have.
Use deliberate, actionable, instructional language (e.g. ‘Watch the video clip’, ‘follow it live’, ‘read the full story’, ‘view the picture gallery’, etc), but avoid appending ‘click here’ to links - it’s unnecessary. See 30 tips for creating ‘must-click’ content.
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Photo by yum9me, used with a CC-license