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Strategies For A Sticky Home Page

Image Strategies For A Sticky Home Page
Strategies For A Sticky Home Page

By Vanessa Salvia. 1/15/09

A "sticky" home page draws visitors in and keeps them there; you
might call it "click appeal." When the Internet was new, people
would surf from site to site just for the fun of discovery. Today's
Internet users are much more sophisticated. They know what they are
looking for and want to find it quickly. If they don't find a clear
path to the information they seek on your site, they will click off
and find it somewhere else. Poor site design is a turn-off to
today's experienced Internet user. A quirky site with confusing
navigation or unprofessional presentation is an immediate red flags
that indicate the site may have other problems, and the visitor is
unlikely to trust it. Your mission is home page stickiness:
enhancing usability so visitors find what they want quickly, and
keep their interest long enough that they come back or keep
clicking through your site.

Differentiate yourself

Your strategy will depend on your market and the answers to some
specific questions that only you can answer. For instance, what is
your unique value proposition? In other words, what makes you
unique in your market, and what do you do that's more suited to
your target market than your competitors? That's what sets you
apart, and that message should be prominent on your home page and
creatively woven into the content throughout the page.

In some markets, a home page with a personal and friendly message
will work best. Are you competing on service and personalization?
If so, you might want to put yourself and customer testimonials
right on the home page. Photos of yourself, your staff, or
customers enjoying your products all help to create a friendly
feel. You could link to an audio or video message from yourself.

How are you catering to repeat visitors and established customers?
If your website never changes, established customers will visit a
few times and not come back again. When surfing back to your
website, it's the foremost question visitors want an answer to is
usually, "What's new?" Put this information front and center. Even
if your inventory is always the same, there are likely some changes
or news in your industry, special offers, articles, or blog posts
about your market that you can link to. There should be no doubt
that your website is up-to-date, that you're still in business, and
that what you're offering is still valuable.

Your home page should speak to each of your target audiences.
Consider the visitors to a website offering power tools. You may
have three different market segments: professional contractors with
larger accounts, individual homeowners, and other retail
distributors you would wholesale to. Visitor segmentation means
finding common groups of visitors, analyzing their actions, and
targeting your content to each group. Each of these constituencies
should be able to quickly and easily navigate to the part of the
website that speaks to them.

How much is enough?

Try not to make the home page overwhelming with too much
information, but do include enough text to satisfy search engines.
Concise, professionally written content that conveys only what is
necessary is the best approach. Unclutter content to minimize
scrolling. Sacrificing fast, easy navigation for an abundance of
content on your home page is a mistake. There's no need to cram
each of your search terms on the home page. Your home page could
never convey all of your information for every aspect of your
business, so let your navigation point the way to rich internal pages.

The important of visual design

First impressions count, and as the saying goes, you never get a
second chance to make one. In some markets, the design is more
important than others, but in general, visual appeal can be the
determining factor in getting a user to look more closely or turn
away for good. Use appealing images that load quickly and enhance
the relevant text.

Check your Bounce Rate

Bounce Rate is a term used by Google Analytics and other statistics
packages. Your Bounce Rate is one way to know if people are staying
on your site or leaving right away, and you can use it to
understand in a general sense how well your home page design is
working. If bounce rates are high, conversions are probably low,
and there's likely some design or usability issue that can explain
why.

Bounce rate is calculated using the number of visitors who visit a
particular page and then leave your site, without visiting any
other pages within your domain, divided by the total number of
visitors to the page. Bounces can occur for different reasons, such
as clicking a link to a different web site, typing a new URL, and
clicking the back button to leave the site. A low bounce rate is
the goal; you want your visitors to stick around, although
different rates will occur depending on the industry and type of
page. For instance, an informational page that links to other sites
or has a phone number for contact purposes will likely have a high
bounce rate, usually not a cause for concern as long as the
business's other goals are being met. An ecommerce site will strive
for a low bounce rate on the home page, as visitors are hopefully
driven deeper into the site to make their purchases.

It's easy to check this metric using Google Analytics. It is found
in the Site Usage window, when you first log in and view your
Dashboard. Clicking on it will allow you to see more detailed
information on your bounce rate, and set date parameters. If you
find your bounce rate is low, you can begin to make some subtle
changes and monitor how your bounce rate responds.

See what your visitors see

Try the "3 foot rule": bring your home page up on your computer
screen and move 3 feet away from the screen. Does your main message
visually jump out? That is a great way to start fine-tuning your
message, so that the most important information you want to convey
pops out when a visitor first lands on your site.

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