The e-commerce homepage is the digital equivalent of the physical storefront display in a brick-and-mortar store. Just as in a traditional storefront, you need to find visually appealing ways to draw your visitor in for business. If they don’t like what they see, they will reflexively hit the back button. A good homepage clearly identifies what you sell and includes a compelling call to action, such as “start saving now.”
The goal of the homepage? To inspire visitors to dig deeper into your website and move further down the sales funnel. Here’s how to take your homepage from blah to brilliant.
Less is more
As counterintuitive as it may sound, a large mix of offers, promotions and resources can actually lessen site engagement. Why? Because it’s distracting. Don’t cram your homepage with unnecessary images, calls-to-action and links. Remember, your key focus is to make the next possible actions very clear.
Traditionally, online retailers used the homepage as a general catchall for everything about the company and its products. But the more competing messages on the page, the bigger the cognitive load experienced. Remember, you don’t want to make your customers think too much. Rather than put all your messages in one basket, aim for giving your customer a strong direction of what to do next. Represent your brand with a strong unifying message, and from there guide your users on to their next steps in the shopping process.
Make it easy to navigate
Ever been to a site and struggled to find your way around? If a user doesn’t quickly find what they are looking for, they will leave. A disorganized homepage deters your targeted audience from deciding about what to do next, such as click or opt in.
Global navigation—links to a site's top-level categories—works best when it appears on every page. But don’t let there be too many decisions involved in navigating. An excess of categories makes shoppers feel overwhelmed. Simplify your navigation and keep it consistent. You can add a search bar to minimize any friction as well.
Splashy images and slick graphics have their place, but a website’s bread and butter derives from its rankings in search engines. Remember your search engine optimization (SEO). Even amidst Google’s hard-to-crack recalibrations, certain SEO practices remain critical for helping customers find you. Good header tags and keyword-friendly copy and content make you visible and help your business grow exponentially. Keep your blog active and refresh copy when appropriate to be more relevant and help improve your SEO.
Make it personal
In the anonymous world of online shopping, users love personalization. It drives engagement and can increase sales. One simple way to personalize the shopping experience is to recommend products based on browsing history.
Taking a page from Netflix, an early adopter of personalized browsing, product filters can range from “Customers who viewed this also viewed” to “Related to items you’ve viewed” or “Inspired by your browsing history.”
One effective way of making use of a person’s browsing history is to use it as way to reconnect. For instance, when a customer returns to your site after an absence, you can thank them for coming back and serve up a product relevant to their prior search. Do this by taking advantage of an on-page algorithm that catalogues a customer’s buying patterns or purchase third-party off-page browsing data.
For a full guide on how to build and optimize your utility's online store, download our e-book, "Best Practices for Designing Your Utility's Online Store."