The importance of your website’s homepage should not be underestimated – it is the front door to your company’s home on the web and is often the first impression a client or customer will have of your organization. It will be readily apparent to web users if you have rushed the design and development phase for your website by throwing together a homepage with every graphic, color, font size and type, and stock photo available.
Putting too much information on the homepage will result in the same effect as skimping on content and design – users will bounce away from your site almost as quickly they arrived.
You don’t want your readers to feel like they just stepped into the center ring at the circus when they arrive at your homepage, but you do want to engage, motivate and inspire users so they travel further into the site.
How do you know when “enough is enough?”
The following things should be avoided, or at least used sparingly, to minimize the “circus effect” on your homepage.
- Overly complicated background designs
- Backgrounds that flash, blink, or have patterns can overwhelm the eye and look unprofessional.
- Obnoxious or poor color choices
(Nothing is more frustrating than visiting a website’s homepage and finding that you can barely read the information on it because of poor color choices for the background and text).
- Complicated fonts
(There is some controversy as to which fonts are easiest to read, but many web design experts recommend that you use sans-serif fonts such as Arial, Geneva, Helvetica, Lucida Sans, Trebuchet, and Verdana.)
- Music (or video) that automatically plays
(Unless you are a record label, or another company that is related to the music industry, the use of music that plays automatically when someone lands on your site can be a turn-off. Music is so subjective and most visitors would rather find it on the radio or listen to it on their iPod than on a website’s homepage.)
- Graphics that require plug-ins
(A homepage that requires a visitor to visit another site and download a plug-in so it can be viewed is not effective. Recent studies show that users want to visit a site and quickly complete a task. If the site requires additional work for the user, why wouldn’t they leave and visit a competitor’s site where they can quickly accomplish their mission?)