September 15, 2011

You only have 8 seconds….

You spend all this time and money building a website, more money on advertising, SEO, to drive traffic and attract visitors, Only to find out that the research has shown that the average visitor ONLY spends 8 seconds on a site before deciding whether or not to leave.

All that money, time and effort; then one “click” and they’re gone. So you have to get it right – the first and only time !!!

What this means is you only have 8 seconds to impress and inform a potential customer before they ditch your site for good. A good first impression is vital to your business’ site, and you only have one chance, and eight seconds, to make it.

So what ever it is they are looking for (what you are offering) has to be immediately apparent to them. With this being said, you may be wondering what should or should not appear on your website’s homepage. Below we have outlined what to include and how to include it.

Featured Products and Company Description

The key reason a customer is coming to your site is to find out more about your company and the products and/or services it offers. Your potential clients are there because they are looking for something so the first thing they want to know whether or not you can help them.

This is the most important point about your website if you want it to be an effective tool for your business – it has to be all about your clients not you.

Be sure to include brief descriptions of what your company actually does for your clients, how you help them and the various products or service areas you want to high light, not simply vague fluff.

The keyword in the previous sentence, though, is the word “brief.” The home page is not the place to write a long blurb about your company’s history or founders – that information should be left for the “About Us” page. The about us page is also very important – we can leave that for another article.

Also, on your homepage you may want to feature a few key services or products that you offer, either your most recent, or your most popular. However, try to limit the number of featured products; you want to get your product out there, not overload visitors with too many items. Use feature boxes to draw the attention of the visitor.

News and Events

Staying current and relevant is most important if you want your clients to take you seriously. Including news and upcoming events on your homepage is a great way to let visitors know that your site is up-to-date. Make sure not to leave items from 2001 under “Recent News.”

Ensure that the news and events section does not take up too much space on your homepage. Simply show teasers of news and events, and link visitors to a page dedicated to news and events. That way, new visitors can click on ones they are interested in and not get overwhelmed by the amount of information presented to them.


Customer Interaction

Including a “call-to-action” button to get immediate responses from your customers is one of the highest priorities. It is usually in the most obvious position and occupies the “highest value” real estate on your site. This will direct them to give you their email address in return for some valuable information (and or sign up for your newsletter). This is usually beside you welcome video, which will also direct them to leave their details.


Homepage Visuals

Your homepage’s overall visual appeal is also key to attracting and retaining customers. A clean, clear uncluttered look is critical so your visitors can clearly see what they are looking for straight away. 

Make sure that the visitor does not need to scroll left-and-right to access information. This is a big turn-off to first time visitors since it requires them to exert unnecessary effort. Another thing to keep in mind is “the fold.” The fold is basically the part of the website your visitor can see before having to use the up-and-down scroll bar. This is the most important section of your page, so include the most important info in this portion. At the same time, be sure not to cram too much information here.

One key thing to take away from the post is making sure your file size is not too large. It needs to load quickly. Simply dragging the image to shrink or stretch it does not change the file size. The file size depends on how large the image is when you initially upload it to your website. Some images may take three or four seconds to load, which means you are wasting valuable time to make a good impression. If it takes too long they will click away… and the opportunity is lost.


Final Tips on Homepages

Having a great homepage is vital to retaining visitors and getting them to explore the rest of the content on your site. Remember that new visitors decide whether or not your site is worthy of their time within 8 seconds. Here are some final tips for optimizing those 8 seconds:

§   A clear navigation bar – Should the visitor decide that your page is worth their time, you want to make it easy for them to visit the rest of your site and find what they are looking for. The navigation bar also gives a clear preview of the type of information that your site contains.
§   Be clear and concise – Include brief descriptions, not long ramblings on your homepage. Try to make sure there are only 100-350 words total. Remember that if you wish to elaborate on anything, you have other pages on your website on which to do so. Include links for more information.
§   Be audience-conscious – Be totally focused on your target audience, your ideal client. It is up to you to provide information that is relevant and interesting to them. You have to write and present your business, products and services from the point of view of your client. It is what they will be interested in NOT what you think they want to hear.
§   Update often – Keep your website relevant and update your site often so visitors are kept up to date on your business, products and/or services.
§   Preview and test – Make sure to preview your homepage before publishing to ensure it is the image you want to present to your customers. Also test the page to make sure that all links and images work, and check for typos.

Reference source: Webs Homepage Tips

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