There’s an old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” We might want to update it to say, “don’t expect people to judge your website by its home page.”
A website’s home page is like a book cover. We want it to make a great first impression. We’re expecting to be judged by it. We want people to be able to land there and easily get to where they want to go or to inspire action like make a donation.
But how many people arrive at your website by landing on your home page? Chances are it’s fewer than you think.
The vast majority of visitors to your site are landing on another page. That may be the only page that they see. Even if they go to other pages, they may never go to your home page. Just ask anyone who has spent any time looking at website stats or analytics.
But I suspect this information is not common knowledge among staff in nonprofits and charities. If you’re lucky to have dedicated communications or web staff, they probably understand that most folks arriving at your website are not coming in through the front door.
In a perfect world, people come to your home page and they use the menus and buttons to navigate to where they want to go. Or where we want them to go!
In part that is a expectation created before digital media became so pervasive. We normally read a book by starting with the front cover and beginning at page 1. Similarly for magazines or newspapers or even television series.
On the internet though it’s more common to just dive in to where you want to go. Think about it. How often do you go to the front page of a website and work your way to the content you want–even if it’s easily accessible from the front page. If you’re comfortable in the digital world, I expect it is seldom.
How people get to your website
People are arriving at your website via search engines. They are getting directed to the exact page that suits their search terms. They are also arriving via links shared on social media.
What is the first impression made by the page they arrive on? What does it say?
So pay attention to your homepage, its navigation and calls to action, but ensure your website works for all of your visitors. Don’t expect your great home page to do all the work.
Think of every page as your landing page
If you think of every page as your landing page, visitors:
- can easily access what they want from any page they are on. Good menus are important but having other tools to navigate such as a search feature are important. You also want to make a point of including internal links to make it easy for people to go directly to other relevant content.
- are aware of calls to action without going to your home page
- will want to find out more about your issue, cause or organization. Pique their curiousity and get them to stick around for awhile–long enough so they’ll remember you and want to come back.
Help people go directly to the content they want
- Keep search engine optimization in mind when creating any page or post. Be sure to to write for humans though and not robots by using the language people outside your organization or sector would use. Doing so will help people go directly to the content they seek. Remember to keep long tail search terms in mind.
- Include share buttons–especially on blog posts–so that people can send your content to their favourite social media. You may also want to include plugins for specific social media where you know your audience can be found..
Do you have any tips to share? Questions?