10 Essential Elements for Your Website’s Homepage

Website homepages come in all types of design. For small businesses looking for professional website design in Auckland that delivers for their business, there are some essential elements that should be included on your homepage.

This is because your homepage must do multiple things. As a result, it is a unique page on your website. After all, other pages will have a specific focus:

  • Your product or services pages will talk about your products or services
  • Your about page will explain more about your business
  • Your contact page has your contact details

Your homepage, however, has to do some/all of these things and more.

It needs to introduce your business, demonstrate your capabilities, and show that others are happy with the products/services you offer, among other things.

9 Essential Elements for Website Homepages

1. Headings

You should have an attention-grabbing and informative main headline on your homepage. With the main headline, get to the point and use clear and simple language.

You should also have a sub-heading that contains more information. It should ideally focus on the pain points of your customers, not on your business.

2. Calls to Action

You should have a primary call to action high up on the homepage in a visible position.

Previous advice was to put this above the fold. However, this only applies to those people visiting your website on a computer as all your mobile visitors will still need to scroll before they get to the call to action.

As more and more people are now using mobile devices when searching for products or services, having calls to action above the fold is less important.

That said, the primary call to action on your homepage should still be in a prominent position and it should stand out.

You should then have secondary calls-to-action in addition to this.

3. Use Strong images, Including the Main Image

Don’t use simple or cheesy stock images on your homepage. Instead, use your own images or stock images that get attention and that showcase your brand.

4. Benefits of Your Business, Products, and/or Services

Don’t just tell people about your business. Focus on benefits to the customer instead.

5. Well-Written Text

There is a misconception that homepages should be practically free from text to make them look clean and modern. Text is important, however, both for user experience and for search engine optimisation.

Not only that, you can still add text that keeps the homepage clean-looking. Rather than making your homepage text-free, the text should be easy to read with straightforward language.

6. White Space

You don’t need to fill every part of your homepage as whitespace can actually improve its appearance and usability.

7. Social proof

Make sure you include testimonials from real customers talking about positive experiences they have had with your business.

8. Easy to Use Menu and Navigation

This is essential to make it easy for visitors to find the information they need.

9. Newsletter Signup Form

Not everyone who visits your website will become a customer. Therefore, you should try to get as much as possible from every visitor, rather than just letting them leave.

Often the best approach to achieve this is to ask visitors to sign up to your email list to receive your newsletter by adding a form on your homepage.

A better way, though, is to offer something free in return for the visitor signing up. A report or an eBook are good examples.

By including all these elements, you will enhance your homepage and improve your website’s overall ROI.

What Is a Sitemap and Why Is It Important in Website Development?

There are lots of different elements that need to come together during the website development process. This includes everything from the design of the template to the content on the pages to the functionality of the CMS – Content Management System. One of the first and most important things you will need, however, is a sitemap.

A sitemap sets the course for the rest of the development. It can be changed at almost any stage throughout the process, but getting it right from the start will ensure you get a user-friendly website that will deliver on your objectives.

What Is a Sitemap?

A sitemap is a bit like an organisational chart. Instead of showing you the hierarchy of individuals in a company, however, a sitemap outlines the hierarchy of pages on a website. It also shows how each of those pages is connected.

So, at the top, you will have your homepage and other top-level pages, with all the pages linking from them at the level below. This continues for as many sub-levels as your website has.

Your website will likely have two different versions of a sitemap:

  • A manually created list the pages you want on your website, structuring them in a way that is similar to a tree diagram or organisational chart.
  • A dynamic, electronically created sitemap produced at the end of the website development process that gets submitted to Google.

As the latter is dynamic, it automatically updates whenever you add a new page to your website. This helps Google find all your pages as well as helping it understand how they connect together.

This blog is about the first type of sitemap, though – the one you manually create at the start of the website development process.

Why Are Sitemaps Important in Website Development?

Wherever you choose to get website development in Auckland, you should make sure the creation of a sitemap is included in the process.

Without a sitemap, the developer has no choice but to create pages in an ad hoc fashion, with no clear direction on which pages should be included and how they should connect. This results in a haphazard website that is often confusing for visitors to use.

The benefits of creating a sitemap include:

  • Helps you think about the overall structure of your website and the pages it will have
  • Ensures you don’t forget key pages
  • Makes it easier to identify and make changes to complex navigational structures that can be too difficult to use
  • Gives you an understanding of the content that will be required to complete the website development process
  • Helps you create an optimised visitor flow, i.e. the path you want users to take when they visit your website
  • Ensures there are no isolated pages

The process of creating a sitemap doesn’t take long, although the more time you can devote to it the better it will be.

How do you make sure your sitemap is as good as possible?

The most important tip is to make sure you focus on your website’s visitors:

  • How will they find and get to your website?
  • What do they want to find or learn once they are on your website?
  • What are the important things that should be as easy as possible for visitors to find, i.e. the things that should be in the main menu?
  • What should be in the sub-menus?
  • What are the things that are of secondary importance and can be in the footer menu?

By focusing on the above, you will create a sitemap that puts the user first.