Only As Good As Your Index Page

Windows Vista Install Fail - http://www.flickr.com/photos/everdred/171671284/If you run a blog, then your most recent content is what the majority of people will see. It is crucial that all of your posts, especially your newest posts are up to par.  It’s pretty much the same system as job performance or brownie points.  People only remember what you just did, and fail to remember things that didn’t occur in the recent past.  Your latest few posts gives a first impression to your visitors. First impressions are lasting, and if visitors don’t like what they see on your index page, then they will surely exit your site. In order to keep visitors from leaving your homepage you need to captivate your audience and create content for your customers.  A good website design and layout can grab a users attention initially, but to keep them on your site quality content is essential.

If you were to stumble upon this website, how would you respond?

Homepage of http://www.ski-utah-rentals.com/

You are going to be very turned off, and chances are you are going to immediately hit the back button.  It would be interested to see  data of changes in conversions when a website goes from a late 1990’s to a more modern design.  I’d be willing to bet that conversions would see a substantial positive shift after such a change.  10+ years ago it may have be standard for websites to look like this, but website design has evolved quite a bit and webmasters need to take advantage of the powerful design tools at their disposal.

Now if you came across this website, how would you feel about it?

Homepage of cucweb.org

This design and layout displays a environment that is

  • professional
  • functional
  • organized
  • easy to navigate

All of these features are something that an ideal design has.  It’s not necessary that you pay a designer to create this as there are numerous free templates available, but a custom design will give your website a unique and individualized feel for visitors.

Now that you have the eye candy part down, visitors will stay longer than a second. This means that they are going to see the content of your site above the fold.  Everything above the fold gives users a glimpse of your website’s goal or aim.  If your homepage lacks clear navigation elements or a hint that your site can satisfies their needs, they will likely continue their search elsewhere.  You need to prove to visitors that your website can provide value within seconds of their entrance.

A good design and content are necessary to catch users.  The design may spark their interest initially, and generally most designs will suffice such that visitors don’t immediately exit.  Visitors will proceed to scan your page for keywords or images that correlate with their end goal.  They might read a sentence or two to gauge the level of depth, knowledge, and angle that you approach subject matter with.  If a user finds something to be astray during this process, then they are going to pass on their way.  Since a homepage is generally the most visited, it is going to be the main source driving visitor to stay or split from your site.  On a blog, your newest posts are going to be representing your entire website.  For this reason a website is only as good as its index page.

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