Designing a Website Homepage? Include These Top 10 Key Features

Your organization needs to feature an effective homepage that informs your visitors and encourages them to venture and explore your website. But how do you really know what makes a good homepage?

We’ve designed hundreds of websites over the years and regularly perform user-experience (UX) research to discover how each audience interacts with homepage elements. Our research has led us to 10 key features that are ideal for every website’s homepage and will provide significant benefits to your visitors and online goals.

Homepage Elements: What makes a good homepage?

As the likely first page users will see when they enter your site, your homepage must catch their attention and entice them to visit more pages on the site or complete a call-to-action (CTA) such as making a purchase, filling out a form or calling your business directly. A good homepage will have elements that easily direct users to the navigation menu and CTA points throughout the website. That’s why following homepage design best practices makes such a difference. With each step, you are ensuring your homepage does not look too cluttered or busy, which could hurt the user experience and result in users leaving your website prematurely.

What to Put on the Homepage of Your Website

Your website’s homepage should include several key elements that let users know who you are, what your brand is and where they should navigate next. While there are many different elements to include on your homepage, make sure to think about which elements are relevant to your business and which will help move users to complete a CTA. That’s why we want to share our top 10 key homepage elements that will set your website up for success.

10. Contact Information

Your audience should be able to reach out to you at any time, easily. Encouraging your visitors to inquire about your products or services often produces a solid lead or sale. Depending on your business, it’s likely a good idea to include a contact form or phone number not just on your “Contact Us” page but also on your homepage.

9. A Synopsis of What You Do

Your visitors don’t understand your organization as well as you do. Don’t just rely solely on your “About Us” page or your products or services pages to explain how you serve customers. Visitors may not make it to those pages if they enter through your homepage and are confused about your offerings.

When designing a website homepage, include a brief sentence or two summarizing exactly what your business offers. This copy should be clear and focused on how you solve problems for your clients. The message will be helpful for visitors and can have SEO benefits.

8. An Explanation of What Sets You Apart

Just as it’s essential to clarify what you do, your homepage elements should explain what makes your business unique, different and worthwhile. Your competitors are just a click away! You must stand out from the crowd.

Ensure the synopsis of what you do focuses not just on your offerings but why you’re different.

7. Real Photos

Your homepage is often the first exposure a person has to your brand, so demonstrating your authenticity is critical. Stock photos are one of the least authentic elements you can add to your homepage. These images don’t fool anyone; everyone knows that’s not actually your office, team or services.

As one of our key homepage design best practices, whenever possible, use in-real-life (IRL) photos that truly represent your business. Your audience will appreciate the authenticity (and Google will notice the difference, too!).

6. Social Media Icons

Links to a brand’s social media accounts have become a standard that visitors expect. While they don’t need to be visually prevalent, it is helpful to include social media icons as one of your homepage elements (typically in the footer).

5. Your Logo

While this may seem like a no-brainer, having your brand’s logo in a clear position is critical when designing a website homepage. Visitors typically expect to see it on the left-hand side or in the middle of your website header.

Additionally, linking the logo to your homepage is a website standard so visitors can return to it no matter what page they’re currently viewing.

4. Location Info

Sharing a physical location is beneficial for most businesses. While this should be present on your “Contact Us” page, including it in the footer of the homepage and every page is also a general web standard.

3. A Clear Headline

Just as it’s imperative to feature brief, catchy copy describing what you do and what sets you apart, preceeding this copy with a clear, concise headline as one of your homepage elements is also vital.

This concise text should be designated as a heading 1 (H1) for SEO purposes. The line should also include a keyword that’s important to your audience, such as the name of your industry or one of your most important service lines.

2. Intuitive Navigation

In reality, few website visitors care much about your homepage elements. They’re typically looking for more in-depth answers and information that are located on other pages.

The components of a website homepage should intrigue your audience and serve as a hub for other areas of your website. Therefore, you must ensure the main navigation and callouts are clear and intuitive. Gaining insights on how your visitors behave in tools like Google Analytics or through UX testing is the best place to start improving your navigation.

1. A Single, Prominent Call-to-action

We always ask our clients, “What’s the number one thing you’d like visitors to do when they arrive on your website?” In most cases, it’s an action like filling out a form, signing up for an event, or submitting an inquiry.

Don’t hope your visitors find that form - help them find it! All components of a website homepage should point your audience toward your number one conversion point. Include a clear button on your homepage that serves as a focal point and encourages your audience to travel down this path.

Additional Components of a Website Homepage & Design Best Practices

Many other homepage elements could be helpful for your website, including:

  • Testimonials - Sharing a few testimonials can be a great way to let visitors know that others are impressed with your expertise.
  • Awards - Some industries place great importance on awards. If your target audience feels these are important, feature a few of your honors on the homepage.
  • Examples of your work - If a visitor is thinking about partnering with you, they’ll want to see examples of your work. A full portfolio page is often a good idea, but sharing a few samples on your homepage can also be useful.
  • Website search - If you have a medium to large website, including an internal website search feature can help your visitors discover content found on pages that aren’t as easily accessible from the homepage.
  • SEO - This goes without saying, but your homepage (and all pages of your website) should follow SEO best practices. This includes elements like a unique meta title and meta description, solid keywords throughout all copy and proper schema markup.

Have further questions or need help reviewing or redesigning your homepage? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us! We’d be happy to support you and your team in this ever-important project.

Get Your Homepage Spruced Up

Drew Harden
Drew Harden

CEO and Co-Founder of Blue Compass, Drew Harden has grown and guided the company from a two-person startup in 2007 to one of the Midwest's leading digital marketing companies today. He's a published author, has been cited by PR News and USA Today, and has led web projects that have been honored by organizations like Adobe and American Design Awards.