Our series on How To Make a Website continues with tips for optimizing the most important part: the homepage.

Your site’s homepage is typically the first — and sometimes last — page of your site that visitors will see. So make it count!

Before we get into the details, let’s start with some broad advice. Before designing anything, make sure you understand your website’s target audience. Who are they? What are they looking for? You’ve likely already thought about these questions when branding your company in the first place, so make sure that your website reflects your brand and you should be in good shape.

Once you’ve settled on the tone of your page (youthful or refined? Exciting or elegant?) it’s time to think about the elements. An eye-tracking study at Missouri University of Science and Technology found that visitors will spend an average of 2.6 seconds scanning a webpage before settling in to look at a specific area. This means that the time you have to capture and direct their attention is minimal, so make sure they see what you need them to right away. You only get one chance at that first impression.

Because people will largely find your website through a search engine, , it’s crucial that you answer their most important question right away when they arrive: “is this what I’m looking for?” State your purpose clearly and concisely near the top of the page in a font that is highly visible and easy to read.

Once a visitor has established that you are in fact offering what they’re looking for you, you need to hold their interest with your branding and layout. The eye tracking study mentioned above found that people view the following elements longest, and in this order: Logo, navigation, main image, written content.

This gives us insight into the questions people ask and answer once they’ve decided to stick around your homepage for a moment.

Logo: Who are these people and what are they about?
Navigation: Will I find what I’m looking for here, and how quickly?
Main image: What do these people do best, what is their company like?
Written content: Was I correct in my assumptions so far, and should I continue looking around?

Make sure your visitors are getting the message you want to send during their visit to each of these areas, and you’re well on your way to a successful small business website.

Ready to take it to the next level? Start thinking about how you can get those visitors who stuck around your homepage to learn more to take further action. Do this by incorporating effective calls to action (CTAs) to turn your visitors into customers. (Think eye-catching buttons with calls like “learn more” and “get started”)

If you’ve done your job up to this point, those first-time visitors will turn into repeat visitors. So give them something new to see every time they come back by creating areas for dynamic content. This can be an area that features your latest blog posts, or a social plugin that shows your recent Twitter activity.

What are some other features of great homepages that you’ve come across? Let us know in the comments below.

From our How To Make a Website Series:

How A Blog Can Make Your Small Business Website a Success
Five Commandments For A Great Contact Page
How To Make A Great Website Homepage
Dos and Don’ts of User-Friendly Website Navigation
How To Make A Website: Breaking Down The Pieces
Prepare Yourself: What You Need to Start a Website
Checklist: 10 Steps to a Successful Business Website in 2013
Building a Website: Do It Yourself or Hire A Pro?

21 Responses

  1. Reply
    Erik Kron
    Jan 17, 2013 - 01:08 AM

    I am still new in SEO and this is really helpful for me. Thanks for the guides in making a good website!

  2. Reply
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  3. Reply
    Nagwa abdelgawad
    Apr 27, 2014 - 05:42 PM

    webs is the best

  4. Reply
    RaHuL Da$
    Jun 13, 2014 - 10:09 AM

    thank you… was of tremendous help.

  5. Reply
    manuel geniston
    Aug 05, 2014 - 05:28 AM

    I am very thankful of your website and request your webs team to lay-out, design and features my website to make attractive and convincing to visitors. thanks in advance…

  6. Reply
    Aug 27, 2014 - 06:02 PM

    Hey, guys! Any BRONIES out there? Well, check out my awesome RPG I made with Webs! It’s super fun and brand new and waiting for new members! (And I know a thing or two about RP on account of all the other sites I designed)

  7. Reply
    Oct 07, 2014 - 08:21 PM

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  8. Reply
    Oct 11, 2014 - 08:44 AM

    Awesome! This is pretty helpful, and thanks!

  9. Reply
    Nov 29, 2014 - 09:52 AM

    thank you… was of tremendous help.

  10. Reply
    Julius Tukamuhabwa
    Nov 30, 2014 - 06:28 AM

    Thank you for your guidelines.However i still need more information on how to attach pictures

  11. Reply
    Dec 30, 2014 - 08:20 AM

    I just started out using Webs recently; and it’s so simple in that even without any prior website-design knowledge, I am able to maintain the site. Thank you for these tips and many others…

    • Reply
      Sarah Matista
      Dec 30, 2014 - 12:35 PM

      Hi there!
      So glad to hear that you’re enjoying your experience with Webs.

  12. Reply
    Centre d'Affaire
    Dec 30, 2014 - 12:04 PM

    Having a problem to operate the site builder with a tablet device. Are you a tablet-friendly website, or do you have another way to upload text and images to an account. Await some help with this situation. Thank you.

    • Reply
      Sarah Matista
      Dec 30, 2014 - 12:34 PM

      Hi there,
      Have you contacted support about your issue?

  13. Reply
    Kalen Services
    Jan 04, 2015 - 04:35 PM

    Hey there
    Our company has been using webs since 2010. We’ve attracted a lot of business through our site (and that’s just with the free account ) Upgrading is our next move in the new year. Can’t wait to see the results – Eric

    • Reply
      Sarah Matista
      Jan 07, 2015 - 11:36 AM

      That’s great to hear! Best of luck in the coming year 🙂

  14. Reply
    Peter Marshll
    Feb 26, 2015 - 04:37 PM

    Dear Webs.

    Your free create website and hosting worked well and it was easy to set up.

    I have my own domain name which I was not able to use, so I bought another domain name on your website.

    I can find my website on your webs.com but when I use the URL link that you gave me it does not come up?

    Yet I received the confirmed message that it is published.

    Please help me on this one, thank you.


    Peter Marshall

    • Reply
      Sarah Matista
      May 04, 2015 - 10:37 AM

      Hi Peter,
      Have you contacted support with this issue?

  15. Reply
    Mar 27, 2015 - 04:43 PM

    I just signed up and created a ‘work in progress’ site for my photography hobby/business. Just curious….when I google it, I don’t find the website listed….shouldn’t I? Or is there another step I need to take?
    Thank you!

  16. Reply
    May 04, 2015 - 04:44 AM

    I have been using webs here and there for several years, and I noticed when I came back recently that they have made it so much easier to do stuff. It’s just drag-and-drop and a lot more user-friendly. Webs do, however, try and make you upgrade more effectively than they used to. I find it a bit too “in your face”.

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