(originally published in The
Jerusalem Post, November 2003)
A Home Page that Works
Most people surfing the Internet don't read carefully; they
scan and click. Once you've attracted a visitor to your home
page, you have just seconds to help him decide where to
click next: deeper into your site -- or away to a different
Previous articles have discussed methods of targeting
your desired audience and making your Web site credible.
Today the focus is on enabling your site to work for
your company or organization. It should get tangible results.
A generic "online presence" simply doesn't cut
In order to create a hard-working site, follow these three
- Define its primary purpose
- Offer a clear call to action
- Eliminate any element that distracts from the primary
purpose or the call to action
These steps should have a direct effect on every aspect
of your site -- and should be immediately evident on the
Define the primary purpose of your site. Do
you want to open a channel of communications that will lead
to a business relationship? Attract customers or clients
to a physical location? Offer a public service or in-depth
information? Solicit donations to a charity? Sell products
online? These are just some of the goals Web sites can have.
Be very specific about what you're trying to achieve.
Offer a clear call
to action. Each of the
purposes mentioned above requires tailoring a different approach.
Too many sites present some boilerplate text and photos,
but don't actually tell visitors what action they want them
to take. As soon as visitors stop and wonder where to go
or what to do, you've already lost them.
For example, if you want site visitors to come to a bricks-and-mortar
store or office, prominently display your business hours,
address, phone number, and, ideally, a map on the home page.
Say, "Visit us!" If you want them to sign
up for a newsletter, with the intention of forging an ongoing
relationship, offer the sign-up on the home page with words
like: "Sign up for our newsletter!" For
an e-commerce site, feature a few key products on the Home
page and make the "shopping cart" obvious. Alongside
each product have links to "Buy now" and "View
A certain degree of redundancy helps. The call to action
should be offered in the main menu, within the text, and
at the bottom of the page. And don't forget to keep offering
it on the inner site pages as well.
Eliminate distractions. Anything
that doesn't help, hurts. Each visual and textual element
should support the call to action and reinforce the purpose
of the site. For example, a multimedia designer's online
portfolio can certainly feature an exquisite Flash movie
on the home page; it demonstrates artistic abilities, serving
the primary purpose of the site. But if a site markets wholesale
automotive supplies, subjecting visitors to a 30-second splash
page featuring swirling versions of the company logo is not
useful -- and therefore harmful. Much more effective would
be a clean, clear index of the products available, with instructions
on how to order them and perhaps testimonials from satisfied
customers. Visual effects should not obscure these features.
If they do -- get rid of them.
Try to view your site from your target audience's perspective.
Offer the services your customers want -- and then make sure
they're easily obtainable. Your visitors will thank you!
Do you have any questions? Contact
me and I'll try to answer them in upcoming articles. Also,
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