The old saying that you only get one chance at a first impression applies just as much to websites as it does to people. The home page of a website can trigger a split second decision for a user as to whether or not they want to leave the site or continue digging deeper. Producing a home page that not only encourages exploration by site visitors, but also encapsulates the purpose of the site as a whole, is perhaps the single most important feature of any website.
The single most important feature that a home page can have is content.
This doesn’t necessarily mean giant blocks of text, but rather concise information that conveys what a site is about and who it is geared towards. This could include:
- A simple title, logo, or heading can explain what a site is about.
- A short paragraph with headings and subheadings can explain what services a business or site has to offer, and why visitors should continue viewing it.
- Contact information or links to social media
Content like this may seem redundant, but even the best looking websites can fail to include it. Presenting this information in a professional way can create a sense of trust between a visitor and the site, which is critical for making a home page feeling like a home.
When it comes to making a home page feel inviting, aesthetics can play a tremendous role.
Choosing colors that blend well together may seem like an obvious design decision, but there are plenty of sites that believe that pink and black will work together no matter what. Background, font, and media colors should not only complement each other, but help draw eyes to specific areas of interest on the home page. By doing this, it guarantees that visitors will have an easier time navigating the site.
Incorporating high quality images, media, and other visuals can also help with overall site navigation.
Menus and navigation bars should be easy to spot and even easier to use.
This can be as simple as not collapsing a menu selection or as complex as utilizing a search bar. Using interactive banners or slideshows of images in an obvious location on the home page can be used to display the core themes of the site. For more technical sites, using a combination of graphics and non-intrusive videos can keep site visitors on the page for a few seconds longer, which may be all it takes in order to convince them to explore the rest of the site.
Overall, not all websites are created equal, but creating a lasting first impression is the sole purpose of a home page on any site. By utilizing specific design and technical choices, a website can turn itself from an exploratory visitation to a long lasting interaction between user and designer.