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First Impresssions - Your Home Page

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Learning Lab

This lesson will review the most important elements that are needed on every home page.  There is more to creating a home page than just adding a few graphics, menus and testimonials. You must capture the reader's attention within seconds and provide content that encourages them to learn more and take some sort of action.  Essentially, you want to turn visitors into customers.  

The Importance of Effective Home Page Design

Consider these statistics:

  • 94% of website first impressions are design related

  • 48% of people consider the design of a web site as the most significant credibility factor for a business

  • 70% of online businesses fail due to bad website usability

  • 94% of negative website feedback was design related

  • 34% of people will not engage with a poorly designed website

Web Design

You never get a second chance to make a first impression!

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Curb Appeal

Your homepage is like your home’s curb appeal. It is the first impression that people have when they visit your site. It is also likely that it is the first impression of your brand. It is not just the functionality that is important, it is also the aesthetics and the CONTENT that will convert a visitor into a customer.

Home Page Must-Haves


Web Design

The “Hero” image is a web design term used to describe your largest, most prominent and most important image on your homepage.  It should be a high quality image that grabs the the visitor's attention.


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The hero message should convince someone to stop scrolling, pay attention, and explore further. Crafting an effective message isn't as easy as it sounds. 



You want to assure the visitor that they have found what they are looking for and motivate them to learn more. Stress what problem you solve for them and how they can benefit from your product/service.  When crafting the statement, always remember to answer the question, “What’s in it for me.”

For Example

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Hero Image & Message

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Value Proposition


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Once your visitors understand what you do, they need to be convinced that you're different from your competitors. Differentiators can be conveyed in a variety of ways. The most important thing, however is to be authentic and be able to consistently deliver on your promises.


Image by Brooke Cagle

Testimonials build trust and credibility. Part of the reason why testimonials are so important is that they help create a deeper, more emotional appeal for your branding.  You want your customers to be your brand advocates.

Testimonials have always been effective but with the advent of the Internet, social proof can also be a powerful tool. 


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A website call to action (CTA) is some form of text, banner, button, image, or other elements that instructs a website visitor to take immediate action in a compelling way. It is often the next step you want your audience to take on a web page. It can be your most important element on your website.  Where you place your primary CTA and secondary CTA is almost as important as what you say in it.

Image by Carson Daniel

Above The Fold

"Above the Fold" is the portion of a web page that is visible without scrolling. It originates from the newspaper industry. Newspapers are usually folded in half before they are put on sale. Since readers can only see the top half of a newspaper, it is imperative for the content above the newspaper’s fold to be compelling enough for someone to buy it.  Therefore, the most intriguing stories and graphics are placed above the fold.

Why a Website's Above The Fold Matters

Visitors expect to immediately find the information they require. If the site doesn't grab their attention right away, they will leave. You want to engage with your visitors from the start so they will want to explore further. Typically, the "Hero Images/Messages" as well as a CTA are placed Above The Fold.  It is another reason why crafting just the right message is so important. Videos can also be powerful as long as they do not slow down your page. Visitors don't want to wait for a sluggish video to render.

Image by Glenn Carstens-Peters

Home Page Checklist

  • Brand Visual Identity Elements - Do you have a consistent color palette, fonts, logo, high quality images and videos?

  • Hero Image and Message placed Above The Fold?

  • Does your Hero Message answer What, Who and Why?

  • Prominently placed CTAs? Do they help convert or do they annoy your visitors?

  • Do you have a value proposition that clearly identifies what problems you solve and stress the benefits of your product and services.  

  • Have you given your visitors a glimpse of what sets you apart from your competition?

  • Does your imagery and content trigger positive emotions and encourage them to explore the rest of your site?

  • Have you offered any proof to back up your claims?

  • Have you made a good first impression?

Design is important but 

"Content is King?"

What do Bill Gates and Kevin Costner have to do with it?

"Content is King" is a quote often used by web design and marketing professionals.  It stems from a 1996 essay written by Bill Gates where he said, "Those who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products - a marketplace of content.” Behind this is the belief that the content, the text in particular, is central to the success of a website.

A professional web site designer can create a beautiful web site but it will not produce the results you want without great content.  In the movie, Field of Dreams Kevin Costner is told to build a baseball field and promised, "If you build it they will come." Web design doesn't work that way.  Visitors will not suddenly appear nor will they turn instantly into customers without engaging content. 



A designer cannot create a web site without the help of the business owner.  Only the business owner can convey their vision, passion and unique qualities.


Designing a website should be a highly collaborate process between the designer and the business owner.  Much attention must be paid to content creation.  A business owner doesn't have to be a content writer but they must work closely with the designer to accurately convey their unique offerings and messages so the designer can create a successful web site.

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