Your website is not just a decorative accessory for your business. It’s often the first impression someone has of your business and it needs to be assisting you in making revenue. This starts with an effective homepage design.
We’ve spent years building websites for our service-based businesses (offering branding and website design) as well as for our digital product businesses (selling online courses, e-books, memberships, and more).
Optimizing your website to be more effective in support of your strategy is vital to making your business successful. Your website should be working on your behalf to reach your revenue goals. If you aren’t hitting your goals and you desire growth, you need to consider the possibility that your website isn’t doing its job.
In this article, we’re going to share with you the processes we use over and over again to design an effective homepage.
Is your website missing the magic of effective web design?
You’re probably in one of these two categories right now:
#1 You feel somewhat confident in your website. Your product or service is selling (infrequently) but you know you haven’t spent time optimizing your website and you’re not even sure what to optimize or focus on.
#2 You don’t feel confident in your website at all. You may be selling your product or service but it’s mostly or entirely through word-of-mouth referrals. You feel constantly overwhelmed by what to change on your website and what to do next.
We’re here to BOOST that confidence and make sure your website is helping you hit your goals of owning and running a profitable business. We’re going to walk you through practical (and fun!) formulas for making your website speak more clearly to your client/customer and better support your ONE primary objective.
If you follow our advice you should absolutely see these results:
- Your website will clearly speak to your target customer
- You’ll have a boost in conversion rates (to email signups or sales)
- You’ll feel confident continuing to tweak your homepage moving forward
The magic isn’t in rebuilding your site from scratch. It’s about making tiny, strategic changes to your site over time to improve its effectiveness.
We’re all about spending your precious hours on things that actually make a difference so you can devote the rest of your time to a life that brings you true fulfillment, rather than working tirelessly day after day wondering why you aren’t seeing progress.
Before you start on your homepage design, set YOUR objectives for building a profitable business
Before you can update your website to be more effective, you have to define what “more effective” means by setting your objective(s). Your site should have a primary, secondary and tertiary goal.
Objective #1) SALES: Your primary goal is to sell your product or service. If you have multiple offerings, define ONE* clear winner among them to optimize for.
Objective #2) LEADS: Your secondary goal should be leads. “Leads” can come in many forms. Define what that looks like for your business. Is it to get people to join your email list? Sign up for a challenge? Contact you? Set up a consultation call? Be specific.
Objective #3) INTEREST / TRUST / AUTHORITY: Your ongoing goal with your website should be to deliver value to your ideal audience and have them coming back to your site consistently because they know you’re going to deliver for them.
*We know you may have multiple product offerings. Heck, we do too! But, your website’s homepage should sell your main offering. If you give people the Sizzler Buffet of things to buy from you, guess what will happen? They won’t buy anything. Pick your “product pony” and have that be the focus on your homepage. Create a Products or Work With Me page to share more of what folks can buy from you.
Process #1 to Gauge The Effectiveness of Your Homepage: 4 Questions Clarity Test
Before you go making changes to your site, you need to gauge how effectively your homepage is communicating with your customer at the moment. Start by climbing into the shoes of someone visiting your site for the first time who knows nothing about your business.
Does your current homepage CLEARLY answer these 4 questions:
Q1: What do you do?
As a visitor, would you know immediately what kind of business your site promotes and what mental category to put it in? What’s the two-word category that your customer/client should put you in? You don’t want someone to be confused about what kind of business you run.
TIP: We call this your “two-word tango.” Someone should easily be able to identify you as a graphic designer, web developer, marketing consultant, business coach, fiction author, etc.
Q2: Are you for me?
As a visitor, would you be able to identify if this business was geared toward you? Would you recognize yourself in the copy or resonate with the design elements?
Your website homepage should explicitly state your audience somewhere. Your target audience should be able to say to themselves, “I’m in the right place!” It’s about showing them that your business, brand values and personality are a match for them.
It also helps you sort through who you want to be working with. What kind of customers or clients do you want to be spending your time with? You want your site design to speak to those people, even if it means people who don’t fit that bill will be turned off.
Q3: How can you help me?
As a visitor, would you know how your life would be improved by hiring this business or buying a product from this business? There should be a clear outcome stated for your client/customer. As Donald Miller from StoryBrand says, “make the customer the hero” and show them the journey they can go on with your business.
We love this quote from April Dunford on positioning yourself and your product:
“Customers don’t care about your unique features, they care what those features can do for them. Your positioning needs to be centered on the value that you alone can deliver for customers.”
Q4: What’s my next step?
As a visitor, would you know what action you should take next if you were interested in this business? It should be super obvious, compelling and visually distinctive.
Please, for the love of Pete (whoever Pete is) stop burying your email signup form in the footer of your website, especially if that is one of your main objectives for your website. Also, don’t just say “sign up for my emails,” add a compelling statement as to WHY someone should give you their email address.
⚡️4 Qs ACTION STEP ⚡️
Pop open a new browser tab and go to your website’s homepage (we know you have about 17 others open 🙈). Now go through the four questions outlined above. Does your homepage currently pass the 4Qs Clarity Test?
Process #2 to Design An Effective Homepage: APSOSA Framework
What do you do if your website DOESN’T pass the 4 Question Clarity test?
Don’t panic! We’ve come up with a magic spell (because, fun 🧙♂️) that will get your website and homepage working toward your business goals in no time. We call this spell “APSOSA” and feel free to shout Websitium APSOSA! as you continue reading.
Our “APSOSA” framework is the secret to telling a clear and compelling story that helps your homepage hit your objectives.
Use the APSOSA spell if you want to redesign your home page to CLEARLY speak to your customer and support your primary objective.
These are the following six elements that should be communicated clearly through your design and copy.
A – Audience: Identify who you’re talking to and make sure your audience will recognize themselves as the target of your business
P – Problem: Speak to a problem your client or customer currently has. Remind them what they’re struggling with.
S – Solution/Offering: Tell them the solution to their problem and position your offering as the thing to provide that solution.
O – Outcome: Describe how their life will be better on the other side of buying from you or working with you. Paint a picture of the future they could have with your solution.
S – Sauce: What makes you stand out from the sea of other websites they’ll check out that day. Be memorable and add your own authentic spin throughout.
A – Action: Make it clear what action you want them to take and have a compelling reason for them to take that action. What’s waiting for them on the other side?
See the APSOSA framework in action!
The video below is a clip from one of our Wandering Aimfully coaching sessions where we taught the APSOSA framework to our members using one of our awesome folks and their site as an example!
If you just want the highlight reel of that video, here’s a slider we put together on Instagram to go through APSOSA:
⚡️APSOSA ACTION STEP ⚡️
Head back over to that browser tab with your website. Go through each step of the APSOSA framework and identify where on your homepage each facet is represented on the page. Are you addressing the six key elements in APSOSA right now? If not, write down any small changes you could make to your copy to satisfy all six parts of the formula.
Want ALL THE DETAILS? Watch Our Free Website Optimization Coaching Session
Here at Wandering Aimfully we do Un-Boring Business Coaching each month with our members. A few months ago we taught an in-depth session on website optimization, going over the 4Qs, APSOSA, and a lot more helpful content when it comes to making sure your homepage (and the rest of your site!) is working on your business’ behalf.
You can watch the free session by entering your email address below. You’ll get nearly 1 hour of teaching from us and if you like what you see, you get a ton more!
Homepage Design Dos and Don’ts Checklist
Now you have our two processes for improving your website’s homepage design today. The 4 Questions Clarity Test and the APSOSA framework should help clarify what actionable steps to take to ensure your homepage is doing its job for you and your business!
But before we let you go, we have a few homepage design dos and don’ts we want to share with you. These will help ensure that your homepage is easy for your audience to consume and will help hit your objectives.
Add more white space to your homepage design
Make sure you give your content white space and breathing room. Don’t try to squeeze too much text together. If you even have to ask the question, “does my site have enough white space around images and text?” the answer is NO. Trust us, err on the side of too much white space (breathing room is visually a good thing!)
White space in design increases legibility. It creates emphasis. It can help someone focus on specific calls to action. Not enough white space can actually disorient your website visitor.
Make your body copy larger than you think and easy to read
A few years ago it was trendy to have tiny body copy (8px body copy?? I don’t think so!) That trend has since gone by the wayside and larger body copy is the way to go. Not only is having larger body copy easier for your customers to read, but it’s also great for mobile responsiveness.
The last thing you want is someone bouncing from your website quickly because they think your body copy is too small.
Don’t use light font colors for large blocks of copy
Use a font and weight that is legible and contrasting with the background. Don’t use a light, delicate font for long copy that’s hard to read. We’re big fans of big, bold copy because it gets our point across (just look at the headings of this article!)
It should be noted that we appreciate delicate and airy design, where ultra light font weights may be the right choice, but they should still never be the choice for your body font.
🙏 Please, please, please reduce the line length of your text
We see this design mistake ALL. THE. TIME. When a line of text spans too wide across a screen it’s jarring for someone to read. Limit the width of your content so it’s easier on the eyes. You should never have long lines of text that span the whole width of the page.
👋 Squarespace Users: This one especially goes out to YOU! By default, Squarespace allows you to add Text Blocks that span the width of a page. Don’t do it. Add Spacer Blocks on each side or use the Design Settings to reduce the width of the page canvas to avoid having longer lines of text on your site.
Be consistent with your font choices and weights (go for LESS)
One thing that can immediately make your website look unprofessional is too many fonts and font weights. Stay consistent with your fonts and colors so you don’t distract your visitor.
Don’t use more than 3 fonts and be sure that the fonts you choose pair well and don’t compete for attention. Less is more when it comes to fonts and font weights!
Let’s wrap things up and make sure you track some baseline metrics before making any changes
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning our two processes for creating an effective homepage design that helps your business meet its objectives.
Before you make any changes, be sure to grab some analytics on how your website was performing before you made these tweaks. We recommend tracking:
- 👥 Number of visitors to your homepage in the last 30 days
- ✅ Number of conversions to signing up for your email list/free consult/contact form the last 30 days (whatever your “lead” action is)
- 💸 Number of conversions to hiring you or purchasing your product in the last 30 days
Then, if you haven’t done so already, put your homepage through the 4 Questions Clarity Test and the APSOSA framework. What do you need to change? What design dont’s do you need to fix?
Be willing to experiment with your homepage and lean toward having LESS content than you think you need. Keep your objectives for your website in mind and compare your changes to your baseline metrics!