Site Design

How can we improve the effectiveness of our home page? | Part 2


Test Number: #112501-SD

Word Count: 3450+

Focus: 11 Questions

  1. How can you study your customer service metrics to learn whether or not your homepage is appealing to the right prospects?
  2. How can you keep your home page from appealing to the wrong prospects?
  3. Are too many options being presented?
  4. How much information is the prospect required to “absorb” in one screen?
  5. How is the information being grouped on the screen “itself”? Is it being correctly clustered in “digestible” bits?
  6. Is your information flow natural and intuitive?
  7. Is the prospects attention being focused on the right elements, in the right order?
  8. Are you deliberately using the 5 Key Design factors to distribute visual impact?
  9. Are there too many “clicks” between the purchase decision and the product delivery?
  10. Is the site configured with the latest standards for maximum load times and minimal resolutions?
  11. Have your graphics achieved optimal compression?


  1. Writer – Flint McGlaughlin
  2. HTML Designer – Cliff Rainer

Test Summary

We analyzed 2 different web sites to determine how to produce effective results with the design of your home page.

Test Product

SITE A – Marketing Service
SITE B – Marketing Service

Test Costs

Data Analysis (Labor) = $4200

Question: How does a fast-track Internet growth company attract more than 10,0000 daily visitors, acquire more than 2500 B2B customers, and still find itself desperately unprofitable.

Answer: They attract the wrong visitors, acquire the wrong customers, and sink into a quagmire of tedious customer support.

Their fate is not uncommon, in the littered landscape of Internet “has-beens” and “could-have-beens”.

And there are lessons to be learned.

The effective marketer must ask: Is our home page designed to attract a tumultuous multitude of general visitors, or is it designed to attract a rich selection of the right visitors?

For the past 60 days, we have focused our reports on home page design. In the December issue of the Journal we examined PART 1. The questions we addressed included:

  1. How does home page design impact the visitor penetration ratio?
  2. How does the visitor penetration ratio affect site revenue?
  3. How does featuring a product on the home page impact its sales volume?
  4. Is your site focused around one, clear objective?
  5. Has a clear problem/solution process been communicated?
  6. Does your home page have a strong enough “hook” to seize a prospect’s attention within five seconds?
  7. Is there a sufficient incentive for every action you are asking the prospect to take?
  8. Are you offering successive degrees of involvement for a prospect who is not yet committed to the full process?
  9. Have credibility indicators been subtly placed throughout the site?
  10. Does the tone of your site’s sales copy imply integrity and accuracy?

You can review this report here.

In PART 1, we examined the RESPONSE of visitors to a site’s home page. This data can be useful, but in and of itself, it does not go far enough. The careful marketer must also examine the QUALITY of visitors to a site’s home page.

How can you study your customer service metrics to learn whether or not your homepage is appealing to the right prospects?

Is your site appealing to and converting the right customers. If you are not certain, then perhaps you should mine your customer service numbers. They hold a wealth of insight.

Support Tickets Per Day
Total Number of Phone Support Tickets 2770
Average Number of Support Tickets Per Day 89
Average Number of Support Tickets Per Month, Per Customer 1.7
Support Tickets Per Day
Total Number of Support Tickets 10
Average Number of Support Tickets Per Day .33
Average Number of Support Tickets Per Day, Per Customer .0005

***> What you need to UNDERSTAND: When you compare the Average Support Ticket Per Day, Per Customer, SITE A is 3400 times higher than SITE B.

It is hard to fathom the difference between these two sites. But consider these points.

  • SITE A’s support burden is 3400 times higher than SITE B’s.
  • SITES A and B have product offerings in a similar price range and they serve a similar market.
  • During the calendar year of 2002 site B has only logged 104 support tickets.
  • SITE B offers email support only (which can be a mistake), but is has not logged a single complaint regarding customer service.
  • SITE A offers telephone and email support, yet they are unable to keep their customer base satisfied. They are currently retaining only 60% of their monthly subscribers.

SITE A is in trouble. How can a young company continue to grow, when capital is in such short supply, and support is in such high demand? For each of its active customers, SITE A generates 1.7 support tickets per month.

We are reminded of the old codger, in a dreadful hurry, who ran down the hill “soooooooooooo fast, he stepped on his beard, an’ swallered hisself.”

In the first Internet Revolution, companies maintained a deadly emphasis on “eyeballs”. Life was about page views, unique visitors, and registered users. The omniscient business seers predicted that obscene profits would (eventually) come to those who built a substantial even if free user base.

They were wrong.

Today they are trumpeting “Revenue! revenue! Eyeballs aren’t enough. Charge for access; quit giving the farm away! Get the revenue and the profits will follow”.

They are wrong again.

Business is still about what business is always about… whether you are a brick layer, or a tech wizard. It’s about what’s left over after you pay the bills.

We would be wise to trade the Prophets for the profits.

We would be doubly wise to make certain we are appealing to the RIGHT market with the RIGHT message.

The message you communicate with your home page should be devoid of hype. It should allow site visitors to self-screen themselves.

How can you keep your home page from appealing to the wrong prospects?

SITE A has made several critical mistakes, but their (highly effective) management team is actively correcting these. Here are six keys that will help you to focus your site on the right prospects. (*1)

  1. Clearly define your ideal customer profile. If possible, study your current customer base and focus on those segments that are benefiting the most from your value proposition.
  2. Avoid “lacing” your headers, and metatags with key words that do not attract your ideal customer. You can test the quality of these key words by buying samples on the pay search engines and then studying your conversion ratio, retention ratios, and customer service ratios for the incoming traffic.
  3. Use price as both an attractant and a barrier. It is one of the most effective ways to screen your market.
  4. Use (only) testimonials that are gleaned from your ideal client profile.
  5. Purge your offer of vague generalizations that are less than accurate. Beware of phrases like: “Anyone can…”, “Everyone can…”, etc.
  6. If possible, let the style of your home page/landing page reflect the actual style of the product (especially for information offerings). For example, the Marketing Experiments Journal uses lengthy articles even on the home page. Doesn’t this drive away visitors? Perhaps, but the visitors who stay are the visitors who are interested in detailed data. They are serious marketers, and they are the people whom the Journal serves best.

Peter Drucker said that the effective executive does not just focus on doing things right. He focuses on doing the right things. Our beleaguered staff of researchers would add that the effective marketer does not just focus on the right message for the people. He focuses on the right people for the message.

Section 2 (Continue…)

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