Over the years I have noticed an abundance of articles on the web about the proper design and optimization of website home pages. Despite their great ideas and suggestions for proper design, few of them actually touch on design and optimization techniques for brick and mortar businesses—the businesses that exist on the streets without ecommerce shopping carts, blog interfaces and software downloads.
As a web design company in a small town, our web design and marketing paths frequently cross with existing businesses that provide a service or product to the general public in a geographical proximity, usually with a physical location. The actual elements on their website home page require a different set of features for proper design and optimization solutions.
1. Identification of Business and Brand
One of the most important features of a properly designed website home page is the introduction and identification of the company name, logo and brand. Frequently, local businesses are searched for by name, and it is crucial to provide visitors with clear identification of website ownership and company information, preferably all in the header of the page.
2. Presentation of Company Contact Information
The second most important feature of each business after their name and/or brand is the contact information. Visitors should see the company’s immediate contact information upon the initial load of the site without having to scan the screen. A website’s home page header should include all of the basic company contact information such as phone number, address and quick online contact options. In addition, in instances where the company’s customers would need to visit the company’s physical location, the address area can also showcase a simple map of the location or link to maps.
3. Quick Overview of Company Services and/or Products
After identifying the company brand and contact information, the next feature that a website should provide is the company’s line of services or products. Frequently this can be done through a brief overview in the photo header of the site or a concise list in the web page body. The size of overview depends on the type and number of services and/or products offered by the business. One option is for extensive lists being presented in easy to understand parent categories with smaller sub-lists.
4. Call for Action Features
Let’s be honest: the vast majority of websites exist to generate some type of revenue for the business, whether it’s through estimate or consultation requests, product sales or membership sign-ups. Considering this, too many sites completely fail to address a call for action feature for their business. The website’s home page should clearly communicate each businesses unique call for action features and drive users toward that goal.
In addition to these features, depending on the business type and service provided, a company can and should select other design and feature elements to include on the home page. For example, for a website whose goal is to drive awareness or knowledge for a unique type of product or service, videos could be a tool to use for brand or product introduction. Or, with a business providing services where a visual project showcase might help generate more sales, the home page could include a photo gallery.
Before starting any website design project, both the website developers and business owners should evaluate the company’s unique web requirements and design a proper home page that includes the basic elements of the design and call for action features that drive business growth.