First impressions. Whether you’re meeting a new person or searching for a new company, first impressions matter. This is particularly important for ecommerce brands. Your homepage serves as your first impression for any potential customers, and given the number of ecommerce brands out there, if a customer doesn’t like what they see, they can quickly leave and find something else.
Your homepage should give people an overview of what your brand is: who you are, what you sell, and the lifestyle associated with your brand. Additionally, it should be very easy for people to get around on your site, and that should be made apparent on the homepage as well. If a customer doesn’t like what they see, is confused by the layout, or doesn’t trust that your brand is a legitimate company, they will leave in search of your competition.
Establishing trust will be vitally important for the success of your ecommerce brand. Data suggests that customers will back out of 70% of online purchases if they don’t trust the company they are buying from. For people to input their personal information, they have to trust you. In an age of hackers and data leaks, consumers are much more concerned about online safety.
Additionally, when consumers reach your homepage, you want them to engage with your website. You may have a lot of hits to your homepage, but if the bounce rate is incredibly high, the hits lose their value. Your homepage should encourage people to look around, click on other pages of your website, and most importantly, buy your products!
Here are 5 key areas to focus on when building an effective homepage.
Keep your overall design simple
It can be tempting to want to include a lot of information on your homepage, as you want your customers to be informed of all that your brand has to offer right away. However, overwhelming people is not the way to persuade them to purchase something. Instead, keep the design of your website simple. This doesn’t mean you have to be “boring,” you can still get creative with the appearance, and you should!
In this example, you see a very simple but creative homepage. Going to the actual homepage (instead of looking at the static image above), you would see that the image in the background is instead a video loop showing off the product in use. Beyond that, there is a simple navigation bar, a link to play the entire video, and scrolling down the homepage gives you a bit more info about the product. It is simple, easy to understand, and visually appealing.
Include a navigation bar
Not only is it crucial to have a navigation bar, but the way it is set up will also be incredibly important. In an effort to keep things clean, you don’t want to list too many items here. Instead, come up with a logical way to group things together, and have just a few main menu items listed. Make sure you have people test out your layout to see if it is intuitive for someone not involved with your brand to click through and find products they might be looking for. If it is too difficult or confusing for a consumer to find something, they are likely to leave.
Having a simple, intuitive structure is also going to help you when it comes to SEO and site indexing. If there are too many menus and submenus, it is going to be difficult to get all of those pages to rank. As always, keep things simple and easy to use.
Have important/featured items above the fold
You’ve likely heard the term “above the fold” before- it is the part of your homepage that can be seen without having to scroll at all. This is the perfect location for a great visual that will capture people’s attention. Ralph Lauren, for example, makes great use of an above the fold visual. If you want to show off more than one visual without things being cluttered, consider having a slider. With a slider you can instead have a couple of visuals that will rotate automatically. Use this feature to show off new arrivals, highlight a sale that is going on, or display a featured product. Make sure to use only the highest quality of visuals here.
You don’t want your website to be too pushy, but you also do want to encourage customers to look around. For example, in your slider visuals, include short copy advertising the image along with a CTA that encourages customers to connect more with your brand. If there is a sale going on, have a “shop now” button, or if you are advertising a new or featured product, a “learn more” button would be appropriate. The homepage is not the area to have tons of information, but instead an overview or introduction that (hopefully) gets users interested in learning more. By providing the CTA button, you are making it easy for them to continue to the page they want to visit, instead of making them search for it.
In this example, the CTAs are clearly marked and stand out on the page. The contrasting color draws your eye to them, and the wording is also decisive and clear.
Make sure to check your analytics on your CTAs to see if they are actually working and inspiring people to click. If they aren’t, consider different copy, different colors, or a different topic all together.
Be mobile friendly
Finally, you always want to make sure that your site is mobile friendly. Not only should your website be accessible via smart phones and tablets, it should also be just as visually appealing. With such a high percentage of people searching for things via mobile instead of their laptops and desktops, you want your first impression to be just as impressive for people using their phones and tablets. In fact, research shows that 72% of people want mobile-friendly websites, and over 30% of all Internet activity is from mobile traffic. You need those customers to be just as impressed and trusting in your brand as all the others. In this day and age, a website that isn’t mobile friendly is not likely to be viewed as trustworthy. The time you spend to make sure you are optimized for mobile will be well worth it.