I have been studying homepages lately. When I land on a great homepage I take notice right away because it pulls me in. But I have also noticed that some websites are missing opportunities because of their homepage. So many businesses are only focused on two things these days: Design and SEO.

Now, both design and SEO are important, but you can easily drop the ball on your homepage. And you definitely don’t want to do that. When that happens, you leave your customers confused, annoyed or just plain indifferent. These are characteristics that cause your visitors to leave your website quickly and refuse to buy from you in the future.

The best way to avoid having your visitors feel this way is to step into their shoes and understand the questions they are asking themselves.

1. Is this what I need? (What do they do?)

When someone lands on your homepage – or any page for that matter – for the first time, they are trying to figure out if they are in the right place or not. People want to know if you can actually solve their problem. You only have nanoseconds to make it absolutely clear that you have what they came for.

Answering this question goes beyond just having your logo and brand name prominently displayed on the page. Your message of your website needs to make it clear what you do.

2. Am I the target market? (Who is this for?)

One of the most important questions a visitor is trying to answer – as quickly as possible – is whether the product or service they are looking at actually applies to them.

Visitors are actively trying to determine if they are at a website that has information that pertains to their specific needs. Without answering this question for them, they are more likely to leave your site and not return.

There are a couple of ways to stop this from happening. You can answer any question implicitly. That’s when your heading and content make it obvious that your solution applies to them. Or you can answer it explicitly. You accomplish that, by naming your market in a particular way.

3. What makes them different? (What’s the unique value proposition?)

What are you promising your customers? Whatever it may be, it needs to differentiate you from your competitors. Customers are always looking for a reason to prefer one company over another. Why not give them something that pops out and says: “Here’s how we provide you value in a way no one else can.”

To be clear, your value proposition is NOT a tagline or motto. “Always low prices” or “We mean clean” are not value propositions and they don’t adequately convey what it is that makes you different or better.

Also value propositions are not individual features of your service, or the specs of the products you offer.

So, what is a value proposition?

A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered to your customers. It’s the primary reason a potential client should buy from you.

In a nutshell, it’s a clear statement that:

  • Explains how your product solves your customers’ problems or improves their situation (relevancy);
  • Delivers specific benefits (quantified value);
  • Or tells your ideal customer why they should buy from you and not from your competitor (unique differentiation).

You need to present your value proposition in such a way that it’s the first thing a visitor sees when landing on your homepage. But it should also be visible on all major entry points of your site, such as landing pages.

Nailing down your value proposition will ultimately improve your customer lifetime value as well.

As mentioned earlier, the headline becomes an important touchpoint for communicating your unique value proposition. This is because it’s the most looked-at real estate on the page. So executing a slam dunk with your headline is critical if you want to get the most out of your website.

4. Are they credible? (Why should I trust what they say?)

In the world we live in right now, trust is one of the most – if not the most – important things you need to win over a client. There are many ways to prove your trustworthiness online, but here are a few tips to get it right:

Design

Is your website is outdated and poorly designed? If so, this reflects badly on your business. Internet users have come to associate poor design with untrustworthiness. Don’t let poor design hurt your business.

Contact Information

Having your contact information easily accessible is very important. How many times have you been on a website and become immediately frustrated because you can’t find contact info anywhere? You might even ask yourself: “What are they hiding?” Make sure your contact info is readily available. Even if they never call you, having an easily-accessible phone number adds trust for your visitors and makes them feel at ease; and makes them feel that they are dealing with a “real business” and not some fly-by-night one.

Social Proof

There is nothing better than having client-supplied testimonials and reviews to help build trust. To make them even more powerful, add headshots, names, titles and cities whenever possible. These factors make the reviews more trustworthy and won’t be perceived as doctored.

Claims

If you are making claims, however bold they are, make sure you can back them up. Be sure to link every claim you make with the evidence that supports the claim. This is also a great way to build trust. And watch out for hyperbole. If you aren’t the largest provider, or your product won’t save them thousands, you better not say so.

Metrics

Do you have hundreds – or thousands – of customers? Whatever they may be, share these proven numbers with your visitors. Numbers appeal to the rational part of our brains. And they will help visitors justify any purchase decision they are about to make.

Photos

Having stock photos of people can hurt your website. How can you preach “We care about our customer” or “personal touch” in your site copy and then show the faces of a bunch of people from a stock website who are not part of your company? Using your own faces and photos proves that there is a pulse inside your company.

Don't leave your visitors in the dark

By not answering these questions, you are really hurting your chances of having a visitor to your website become a customer. There are many things that can keep a site from answering these questions, such as getting carried away with copy, or even failing to define what your unique value proposition is.

Now go take a look at your homepage and ask yourself, Am I answering all these questions in 5 seconds or less? If the answer is no, then it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get down to work.