Your website is your virtual place of business. Just like your regular place of business, you want it to be neat, clean, attractive, inviting and professional looking.
Here are seven low-cost ways to improve a homepage to meet today’s standards—and they may be easier than you think.
- Freshen the content regularly
Just yesterday I saw a restaurant website highlighting its Thanksgiving menu—and it is January! That restaurant had a great idea to add a special seasonal menu to the front page. However, they did not execute well, and let it stay up too long. Schedule a monthly reminder to check your website and update the content on the homepage.
- Make sure it has a call to action
Ask yourself: what is the top action you want visitors to your website to take? Here are three examples of common calls to action:
- Sign up for your email list: When people sign up for your email list, you create an ongoing connection allowing you to market to them. Most email marketing software (e.g., MailChimp which is free for small lists, or Constant Contact) offer an easy way to insert a signup box.
- Shop in your e-Commerce store: If you sell products online, either embed pictures of a few products on your homepage to entice buyers to click through, or add a prominent “Shop Now” button.
- Fill out a lead form: If you sell services instead of products, encourage visitors to fill out what is called a lead form. It captures contact information so you can follow up.
- Add contact information prominently
Examine your homepage objectively. Are you making visitors hunt or guess to figure out how to reach you?
Many small businesses add contact information in the header or footer of every page. At a minimum, include an email address and phone number. If you receive customers at your location, add your address. If you would rather use a separate “contact” page, add a large prominent link to your contact page.
- Add images and/or video
Look at your home page. Is it text heavy? Images break up big blocks of text—and they are more inviting to visitors. Include at least one photograph showing your business, team or products.
If no one in-house is a competent photographer, invest in professional photography. In most locales you can hire a professional photographer at rates starting at a few hundred dollars.
Videos are also excellent. So create a how-to video or one demonstrating your product, or of you welcoming visitors. Load it on YouTube or another video platform. Then embed the code to put it on your site.
- Update your design to current standards
A website designed in 2005 will look dated compared with one designed in 2015. An outdated web design gives the impression your business is not up to date either. It is best to update the whole website. But if time and money are in short supply, at least redesign the homepage to create a great first impression. Update other pages later as time and money permits.
Contact your web developer and ask for a homepage facelift. Or if you are a do-it-yourselfer, purchase a low-cost template—you can buy a professionally designed template for under $100 from places like ThemeForest or TemplateMonster.
- Improve page speed
If your home page loads slowly, visitors may never go beyond it. And very slow pages can even negatively affect rankings in search engines. Take the speed test here: https://developers.google.com/speed/.
This test will provide you with suggestions for how to improve the speed.
- Make it mobile responsive
Last but certainly not least, today’s websites need to be viewable on mobile devices. This is especially true for local businesses where customers may be searching on a smartphone from their car for a business nearby. A website that is not set up for mobile devices can be negatively downgraded in search engine results.
If you give your site a facelift, make sure the new design is “responsive,” meaning it is responsive enough to adjust to mobile devices. The same goes if you purchase a template.
Anita Campbell manages several online communities and information websites, reaching over 6 million small business owners, stakeholders and entrepreneurs annually—including Small Business Trends, a daily publication about small business issues, and BizSugar.com, a small business social media site.