Homepage Design

The five most common pitfalls and how to overcome them


In a previous Web clinic, Flint McGlaughlin, the Director of MECLABS Group, taught five steps to help you optimize your company’s homepage. We intentionally left one key aspect of optimizing homepages out of that clinic because we felt it deserved special attention. So, for the September 30 clinic we focused exclusively on Step 4: Design the homepage to weigh objectives strategically according to priority.

However, the objective of this clinic was not to provide one-size-fits-all design tricks and tips. Instead, the objective is to describe the MarketingExperiments way of thinking about homepage design, rooted in our optimization methodology. By applying the principles in this clinic, you will be able to optimize your homepages according to the specific objectives you had identified and visitor profiles that your homepage receives.

Flint taught the five most common pitfalls of homepage design and how to overcome them. Those pitfalls are:

  • Trying to achieve too many objectives – It is critical that you use visual elements to focus the visitor on a small number of initial objectives, so that the visitor is not confused about what they can do on your site.
  • Failing to start a conversation – If the homepage is where you start a relationship with your visitor, that’s where you need to start the conversation, the most natural way to introduce yourself and get the visitor interested in what you have to offer, within the first few seconds
  • Over-reliance on multimedia to communicate value – Anything you can say through video or audio, you can say quicker and more efficiently with text; do use multimedia, but don’t rely on it to communicate, especially in those precious first seconds of your interaction with the visitor. Your visitors are probably not patient enough to wait for even a one-minute video to explain why they should stay on your site.
  • Making the homepage a landing page – If you have more than one offer (even if it’s one product, but one with options), your homepage cannot look like a “sell” landing page; its job is to direct the visitor to the right product as quickly and efficiently as possible…and then let the subsequent page(s) do the selling.
  • Assuming best practices will work for you – best practices, even if they work in most cases, don’t work in every case. You must test your pages, including homepages, to determine whether any change or intended “optimization” actually had a positive effect. Industries, products, and traffic channels are different in each situation, and the results may surprise you.

In addition to teaching these pitfalls, Flint McGlaughlin and the MECLABS Conversion Group team conducted live optimization of audience-submitted homepages – real-world examples to help our audience understand how to apply these lessons to their own homepages.

View the clinic replay, or listen to the audio recording (mp3), to learn how to optimize the design of your homepage.

Download the MarketingExperiments Quarterly Research Journal:

Q4 2010

View a replay of this presentation:

Webinar Video 2010-08-11
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Producer — Austin McCraw

Writer(s) — Austin McCraw
Boris Grinkot
Daniel Burstein
Flint McGlaughlin

Contributor(s) —Adam Lapp
       Nathan Thompson

Presenters — Adam Lapp
Flint McGlaughlin
Nathan Thompson

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