Traditional or Out of the Box: how to balance grabbing attention versus losing your user 

First impressions can make all the difference when the world is moving so fast, which is why homepage design is an especially critical piece when creating or refreshing your website. Chances are that you’ve landed on some poor websites, and you’re doing whatever you can to avoid your website making a bad first impression. However, this can mean different things for everyone. Maybe what you disliked was how bland the website was. Perhaps it was edgy and bold, but impossible to navigate. There may have been too many words, or maybe even no words at all.

Websites, all things considered, are still fairly new. From starting as mostly text based, to becoming almost limitless in their design capabilities, there has always been a tension between what is practical, and what is dramatic, eye-catching, or just neat. Back in the day it may have been debating whether or not to add that spinning or bouncing element to your site, or any of these other faux pas. As you are choosing which direction to go with your new website, keep in mind these things to consider:

What is the point of your homepage?

Every business has different goals, and every homepage should reflect those. If you know you have a lot of information to convey, your homepage should be able to clearly and efficiently provide the web visitor jumping off points to explore the topics most relevant to them. On the other hand, if you just plan to use your website as a touch point, it should be streamlined and have clear methods to contact your business. But of course, content isn’t the only thing to keep in mind when considering homepage design. What sort of impression do you want your company to make on your homepage? High-end? Fun? Clean and organized? Modern and boundary-pushing? Will your audience appreciate a traditional layout, or will that make you blend in?

What do YOU think is bold?

“Bold” is a common word thrown around when people describe their dream design, but we’ve found this can mean drastically different things to different people. As you describe your vision to your web designers, remember to qualify your own definitions. What a healthcare company may consider bold may be very different than what a video production company thinks. Sometimes “bold” can mean adding bright colors, and sometimes it can mean going monochromatic. What catches someone’s eye could be as simple as great photography, or really big text. Sometimes it’s not even a design element, it’s a functionality element.

Ultimately, deciding on the right level of flare comes down to what your audience will respond well to, but providing examples of what you’ve seen and loved (or have seen and hated) can help communicate your intentions better than words at times. So as you reflect on what you want, keep your eyes out for what you like, and save it to share.

What can’t you cut out in homepage design?

When making design decisions, even if you have decided to go high-gear into dramatic design choices, there are some traditional elements that every website should include, no matter how cutting-edge:

An “About”

When people arrive on your website, they should be able to figure out who you are. Most of this information can live on an “About” page, but the homepage still needs to have at least a brief explanation. This could be as simple as a tagline incorporated into your logo or emblazoned across a hero image, but it needs to have some sort of spotlight on your homepage.

Navigation

Even if you go with a one-page website, navigation is an essential web element that helps people feel comfortable and quickly find what they need. Traditional menus often spread across the top of a website and link to various pages, but as in the case of one-page website, can automatically jump a user down to the section they are interested in. Hamburger menus (the three little bars stacked on top of each other you typically see when browsing online on your phone) have also become a popular and common way to contain navigation. Almost all users can recognize what a hamburger menu is, and know to click on it for navigation, which can make it a great option if you want to cut down on words. But remember, sites that are aimed for older audiences, or have compliance requirements may benefit from a very traditional navigation for ease of use.

A Method of Contact

Your homepage likely isn’t the only page you want a visitor to see, but you need to be ready in case it is. Make sure users are not only able to figure out what you do, and how to find out more, but how to contact you. Depending on your business, that may mean providing a contact form they can fill out without having to visit another page, or it may be a direct phone number, or in some cases social media depending on how actively you communicate with your customers there.

Your business is unique, and your website should complement your marketing efforts, not work against them. Finding the balance between functionality and making a statement is possible for any website, but it helps to have a web team that will collaborate with you so that their expertise can realize your vision.

Here at Kolbeco, our process that guides the development of your website and digital marketing strategy will help uncover how to best communicate with your audience. Our “brand- first” approach will hone in on the key components required on your home page – and throughout your website and how the messaging should be presented in a way that is helpful to the visitor and productive for your goals. If you’re considering a new website or a comprehensive digital marketing campaign, we are here to help. Reach out today to begin the journey.