Posted on Saturday, November 14th, 2015 No Comments
The homepage of a website can be the most difficult page to figure out. It’s easy to set up the standard interior pages for a website, such as the “About Us” page, the “Contact” page, and a “Services” page, because it’s clear what should go on those pages. But what should go on the homepage? In this post I will explain the overall concept and purpose of the homepage, and then illustrate the ideas with three layout examples.
The homepage of a website should act as a summary of the entire site. Use it to give visitors a small taste of each important part of the website. Highlight the pages and content that you want to make sure visitors don’t miss.
For the sake of having an example to work with, let’s consider a website for an imaginary retail store. Let’s say this shop sells educational toys. What should go on their homepage?
What you choose to showcase on the homepage depends on what’s most important to you. Ask yourself what you most want to point out to visitors and give them a quick sample on the homepage.
Arguments could be made for and against homepage slideshows. My opinion is that it doesn’t matter much either way, as long as it’s not causing a problem like significantly slowing down load times. If you’re struggling to think of what to put in a slideshow, perhaps it’s not worth having one at all. But if you have some interesting content to feature, that’s fine as well. Search Engine Land has an interesting article with some points against slideshows. Overall, there’s no need to include one if there’s no real reason to have one.
The concept of keeping all important information “above the fold” is a little outdated. Yes, you should still give visitors the information they really need without requiring them to scroll down. However, you don’t really know where the “fold” is for each individual user. They could be using a large monitor, a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone, all of which will have wildly different cutoff points where the first view ends before scrolling. So the better solution is to provide easy access to the most important information within your main navigation bar.
The majority of your homepage should not be the full text of blog posts. You can certainly include a link to the blog, or even show summaries of the latest few posts, but any website that shows mostly blog posts on the homepage looks like a blog, and nothing else. If your website’s purpose is only to be a blog, that’s fine, of course. But if your website is meant to represent an entire business, it shouldn’t look like someone’s journal.
Now that you have an idea of what should go on your homepage, you might be wondering how to arrange it all. Here are few things to consider:
If you’re using any kind of CMS or ecommerce solution (like WordPress, Shopify, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, etc) your web design will be handled by a theme. The theme will probably have a pre-made layout for the homepage. Some themes are very flexible and let you create your own layouts, but some themes are completely inflexible. So, you may be locked in to the homepage layout that your theme provides, unless you know enough about coding to change it. If this is the case, you can always find a new theme.
I created three layout examples to give you an idea of how you could arrange your homepage. These are just ideas, so you can add and remove elements as you need to. Feel free to use these for your own website and share the graphics on Pinterest!
For this first example, I made a layout that corresponds to our imaginary toy store.
This layout example could be used for a medical website like a dentist office or doctor’s office.
This last example is for a SaaS (software as a service) or any other software download website.
If you found these layouts useful, please share them on Pinterest!
Posted in Web Design.