Hanging Gardens home page

Your home page is failing its purpose

I had to write to a client recently to tell them that their home page was failing.  It was not delivering value, it was not doing its job and was actively causing problems for the business.  And this made me realise that few businesses understand the job a home page does.

Hanging Gardens home page

Hanging Gardens home page

What should a good home page design do?

If you are an online shop, the home page has the job of showing the specials for the month or new product lines.  It is often a straightforward design to implement. 

If you are a software company, the home page is usually a sales page promoting and explaining your principal products.

But most business websites have a different challenge, especially those who do not sell by ecommerce.  They have had a website for a few years; they may have had a couple of redesigns and the business website has probably grown to tens, hundreds or thousands of pages over this period.  The priorities of the business shift over time and the website home page needs to support the new business goals and objectives. 

This throws up questions

  1. How often should I change my home page?
  2. Should the home page have all the information about the business?
  3. What should the home page prioritise?

The job of a website home page is to get the visitor to her destination in as few clicks as possible.

Why do visitors come?

Your entire website comprises a heap of different information, advice, products and services and a visitor may be interested in all, one or none of them.  So how can you guess what the latest web visitor wants? 

This is where intelligent home page design comes in. 

Home page as sign post

The principal task of the home page is to signpost the visitor FAST to where she wants to go.  So let’s work out what this means for your website.

Go to your web analytics account and find two reports created from your actual visitor traffic this year.  These are

a) the pages visitors went to on the site.  This shows which are the most popular

b) the search queries people typed into Google which had your website showing up in search results (this comes by linking Search Console to Google Analytics – here’s how to set it up).

Your job is to line up b) with a) so we get the maximum number of people coming to the site and getting quickly to the exact page they are looking for.

Designing for Destination

You now know the top two to five pages on your website (after the home page itself).  I’m going to offer some advice here which will help you brief your designer on the changes you need to make to your home page. 

Firstly – simplify the main menu.  Can you remove any of the top menu items?  Give the visitor as few choices as possible, stay focused on those top destination pages.  Can you reduce your menu to 5 options?  (Home, About, Contact Us plus 2 others?).  Can you remove sub-menus or drop-downs?  We advised Armour Safety to put icon images of their popular product groupings on a side menu; ordered by popularity.  Clicks followed immediately we made the change.

Secondly – highlight popular destination pages in the home page design.  Make it very obvious in the home page design elements what these are.  You can use images, boxes, icons, buttons, large text – all are useful devices to focus attention. By repeating these popular destinations in the home page design and the top menu, you increase the chances that the visitor will choose an already popular pathway.  Coxmate.com.au now does not show its products on the main menu – they send visitors direct to the shop which has its own home page and details all the categories.  Similarly, Apartment Specialists has 3 buttons on the home page, I’m Buying; I’m Selling and I want a Valuation.  All three are on their menu, but the buttons make it easier for visitors to quickly decide where to click.

Thirdly – you have to reinforce the already popular page destinations – this may sound counter-intuitive.  Don’t try and encourage traffic to pages that are not already popular i.e. double down your bets on the well-performing pages.  This is the 80:20 rule in action.  For the visitor who does want something unusual if they cannot find it from your menus, be sure to make it very clear how to get in touch to ask the question. 

So go check how your home page is performing in its duty as a sign post – and don’t be afraid to make changes iteratively – one small change at a time so you can measure the effect before altering other elements.

We use our 8 Step New Business Development process and each has a category – this blog post is related to Step 1 – State your Business.

Click on the icon to see more posts in that category.

8 step new business process. Step 1 Who are you?

This article first appeared in Marketing Online Magazine 

Quality Website Developers

Quality website developers – time to up your game

I get really mad when low quality website developers over-specify for marketing websites.  Is this

Quality Website Developers

Quality Website Developers

something you have seen?

Part of the expertise of a high quality web developer is to recommend the right tool for the job and I find it ridiculously easy to spot website developers who are not skilful.  But it still makes me angry.

Marketing suppliers like Creative Agency Secrets lead the industry because we “decode” marketing for our clients, we find high quality suppliers and engage them for our clients as sub-contractors with us managing the job.  Trust is essential to maintain reputation and high quality marketing services delivery.

I cannot hire you if you set out to exploit the ill-informed client.

Which CMS is right for you?

We are handling a small website for a client which needs to become responsive.  It’s a brochure-ware site and needs to rank well in local search.  That’s it.

So why, oh why does their existing developer recommend a CMS that scores highly for:

  1. Sell E-commerce: The core installation comes with a very nice E-commerce module
  2. Offer Exclusive Content: There is a membership module installed right out of the box
  3. Want Flexibility and Growth: Each website is built from the ground up. Another great feature is the multiple site manager
  4. Care About Security and Stability: there hasn’t been a major security breach in over 10 years.

I did some research comparing two CMS products and found this and Quora answers.   Which confirmed my own views of mis-alignment between client need and tools proposed.

Quality website developers don’t do this

It’s lazy and over-engineered for the requirements and will be costly for the client.

Game over for that potential relationship.

I do not see it as my job to specify the website build and design – that is what an expert web developer should be doing.  As marketing experts, we specify the functionality and features needed and let the experts propose appropriate solutions.

If you know a good web developer who would like to quote on this job – send them this link to the job description.

How to make matching Facebook profile and cover photos

Ford on Facebook

Ford on Facebook with matching cover photo and profile image.

A matching Facebook cover photo and profile picture looks professional and exciting.   Look at the Ford one here – see the large image becomes the background behind the smaller logo picture?  Cute!

You can do so many things with it such as making your Facebook followers laugh or just to make your profile look professional. But how do you line up the two images and make it work? Read on.

How to line up Facebook cover photo with a profile picture

1. Screenshot your Facebook profile page: The first step is to take a screenshot of your profile page for size reference. Paste this screenshot into  PowerPoint or a similar programme where you can CROP the screenshot. We’ll be using our client, Rowperfect, as an example:

Screenshot of Rowperfect Facebook page

Screenshot of the Rowperfect Facebook page

2. Crop your chosen picture into two images: now that you have your profile screenshot and have pasted it into  PowerPoint you can begin cropping your desired image. Detailed instructions follow this image…follow steps 1-4 frame by frame below.cropping

  • FRAME 1: mark your cover photo and your profile photo. The blue rectangle we’ve created represents the cover photo size area and the red square represents the profile picture. Remember to paste the screenshot exactly as it is and do not re-size it, even though it is larger than the PowerPoint work area.
  • FRAME 2: import the image you want as your combined profile picture and cover photo. Then re-size it so it is as big as the blue and red rectangle combined. Line it up as you wish.
  • FRAME 3: duplicate your now re-sized imported image, place it in the same location as its original and crop your imported image and its duplicate to be the size of the blue rectangle and red square respectively.
  • FRAME 4: now you have your two images, save the big one as COVER PHOTO and the smaller square one as PROFILE PICTURE.

3. Place them on your Facebook profile page: now you have your two images you can place the PROFILE PICTURE image on your Facebook profile picture and use the COVER PHOTO image as your Facebook profile cover. If all is done correctly your Facebook profile cover photo and profile picture will now line up together and look flash, just like the Rowperfect Facebook page!

Screenshot of Rowperfect Facebook page

Be creative: more interesting ideas

Here are a few ideas we found that might spark some inspiration for you… speech bubbles, a cartoon bird house, multiple images overlaid or a camera icon.  Be creative.

ideas

Facebook profile picture ideas and improvements

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