Web Design

The Dos and Don’ts of Homepage Design: Creating an Engaging and Effective First Impression

Maja Krajewska
8th July 2024
5 minute read

Your homepage is the digital front door to your business. It’s often the first point of contact for potential customers, and as the saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

An effective homepage design can significantly impact your website’s performance, user experience, and ultimately, your business success. In this blog, we’ll explore the dos and don’ts of homepage design, highlighting five essential elements to include and five pitfalls to avoid, with examples to justify why these practices work.


Five Things to Include in Your Homepage Design

  1. Clear Value Proposition

Why It Works: Your value proposition should immediately communicate what your business offers and why it’s better than the competition. It should answer the visitor’s question, “What’s in it for me?”

Example: Slack’s homepage has a clear value proposition: “Slack brings the team together, wherever you are.” This immediately tells visitors what Slack does and the benefit it offers.

How to Implement:
– Place your value proposition prominently, typically near the top of the page.
– Use concise, compelling language.
– Include a subheading or brief paragraph that provides additional context or benefits.

Intuitive Navigation

Why It Works: Intuitive navigation helps users find what they’re looking for quickly and easily, reducing frustration and improving user experience.

Example: Apple’s homepage features a simple and clean navigation bar at the top, making it easy for visitors to access different product categories and support options.

How to Implement:

    • Use a clean, simple navigation bar with clearly labeled menu items.
    • Include a search bar for quick access to content.
    • Ensure your navigation is consistent across all page.

Strong Call to Action (CTA)

Why It Works: A strong CTA guides users towards taking the desired action, whether it’s signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase, or requesting more information.

Example: Dropbox’s homepage prominently features a CTA button saying, “Get Started,” encouraging visitors to sign up for their service.

How to Implement:

    • Use action-oriented language that tells visitors exactly what to do.
    • Make your CTA stand out with contrasting colors and prominent placement.
    • Ensure the CTA is relevant to the visitor’s stage in the buying journey.

High-Quality Visuals

Why It Works: High-quality images and videos can capture attention, convey your brand’s message, and make your site more visually appealing.

Example: Airbnb uses stunning visuals of properties and destinations to draw visitors in and inspire them to book a stay.

How to Implement:

    • Use professional, high-resolution images and videos.
    • Ensure visuals are relevant to your brand and message.
    • Optimise images and videos for fast loading times.

Trust Signals

Why It Works: Trust signals, such as testimonials, reviews, and certifications, can build credibility and reassure visitors that your business is reputable.

Example: Trustpilot’s homepage features client testimonials and ratings prominently, showcasing the positive experiences of their users.

How to Implement:

    • Include testimonials and reviews from satisfied customers.
    • Display logos of well-known clients or partners.
    • Highlight any industry awards, certifications, or accreditations.


Five Things to Avoid in Your Homepage Design

  1. Cluttered Layout

Why It Doesn’t Work: A cluttered layout can overwhelm visitors, making it difficult for them to find the information they need and detracting from the overall user experience.

Example: Websites that have too many competing elements, such as excessive banners, multiple CTAs, and dense text, can be overwhelming and confusing.

How to Avoid:

    • Use white space to create a clean, organised layout.
    • Prioritise key elements and remove unnecessary distractions.
    • Ensure your design has a clear visual hierarchy.
  1. Auto-Play Media

Why It Doesn’t Work: Auto-play videos or audio can be disruptive and annoying, leading visitors to leave your site quickly.

Example: Sites with auto-play ads or videos can frustrate users, especially if they are in a quiet environment or using limited data.

How to Avoid:

    • Allow users to choose when to play media.
    • Provide clear play and pause controls.
    • Use media strategically to enhance content, not distract from it.
  1. Slow Loading Times

Why It Doesn’t Work: Slow loading times can significantly affect user experience, leading to higher bounce rates and lower engagement.

Example: Studies show that even a one-second delay in page load time can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

How to Avoid:

    • Optimise images and videos for faster loading.
    • Minimise the use of heavy scripts and plugins.
    • Use a reliable hosting service and consider implementing a content delivery network (CDN).
  1. Intrusive Pop-Ups

Why It Doesn’t Work: Intrusive pop-ups can interrupt the user experience and drive visitors away, especially if they appear immediately upon landing on the homepage.

Example: Pop-ups that cover the entire screen or appear before the user has had a chance to engage with the content can be particularly off-putting.

How to Avoid:

    • Use pop-ups sparingly and ensure they provide real value.
    • Trigger pop-ups based on user behaviour, such as exit intent or after scrolling a certain distance.
    • Make it easy for users to close pop-ups.
  1. Poor Mobile Optimisation

Why It Doesn’t Work: With the increasing use of mobile devices, a homepage that isn’t optimised for mobile can lead to a poor user experience and lost traffic.

Example: Websites that are difficult to navigate on mobile, with tiny buttons and unreadable text, can frustrate users and cause them to leave.

How to Avoid:

    • Use responsive design to ensure your site adapts to different screen sizes.
    • Test your homepage on various mobile devices to ensure usability.
    • Prioritise mobile-friendly elements like larger buttons and readable fonts.


Wrapping up

Designing an effective homepage involves a delicate balance of aesthetics, functionality, and user experience. By including key elements such as a clear value proposition, intuitive navigation, strong CTAs, high-quality visuals, and trust signals, you can create a compelling first impression that engages visitors and drives action. At the same time, avoiding pitfalls like cluttered layouts, auto-play media, slow loading times, intrusive pop-ups, and poor mobile optimisation ensures that your homepage provides a seamless and enjoyable experience for all users.

The examples provided demonstrate how successful companies implement these principles to their advantage, creating homepages that not only look great but also perform effectively. By following these dos and don’ts, you can design a homepage that serves as a powerful gateway to your business, attracting and retaining visitors while supporting your broader marketing and business objectives.

At Sleeky, we specialise in creating visually stunning and highly functional websites tailored to meet your specific needs. Contact us today to learn how we can help you design a homepage that makes a lasting impression and drives your business forward.

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