Pre-S. Knowing what to put on your site (and where) can be tricky…
And since your business is unicorn-level unique, you don’t want to rely on your site’s pre-made template to dictate what makes it on the page.
Fill-in-the-blank prompts to help you write your home page copy (A.K.A your website words) as quickly and easily as possible
Need-to-know guidelines for the most important sections of your home page
These are exact steps I take when planning out the content for every Squarespace site I design, and just one of the content page planners created exclusively for students of my Square Secrets Course.
But today, I’m sharing access to my Home Page Content Copy Planner for free!
Ok, now that you’re all set with what content you’ll need for your home page, let’s chat about a few simple tips to make for a better design!
If there’s one consistent theme that’s come up in all my years of web design and running an online business, it’s this…
The more advanced technology gets, the less inconvenienced people are willing to feel on their way to getting results/answers.
Say someone who’s never been introduced to your business and has zero context of what you do shows up on your home page…
Without scrolling or heading to some other page in your navigation, you should be able to make two things abundantly clear right off the bat:
Do you offer what they are looking for?
Are they the type of client you passionately love to serve?
(It’s ok if the answer to either of those is ‘no’ btw! Say it with me: ‘If you’re trying to reach everyone, you reach no one!’)
So how can you fill them in on this within seconds of them landing on the page?
The perfect tagline!
(I share my simple, fool-proof recipe for a perfect tagline in my Home Page Content Planner, so don’t forget to grab your copy to get the most out of these home page design tips!)
I get it! New business and tiny-baby-business-budgets pretty much go hand in hand. #beentheredonethat
And while there are several things it makes sense to scrimp and save on when first getting started, your website’s images should not be one of them!
Yep. Poor quality images will tank your design every time.
No amount of brilliant copy or stalker-level understanding of your ideal client’s wants and desires is going to save you from the instant and lasting bad impression that comes from ho-hum photos.
And I’m not just talking grainy, underexposed, amateur photos here…(though those are certainly the deadliest of the serial website sales killers)
Even super high quality stock imagery can leave your site visitors feeling less than inspired if they aren’t chosen carefully, or if they look and feel like every other site out there.
A pro branded photo shoot for your business is always money well invested, but if it’s not quite in the budget, go for stock photos that:
Feel/look consistent (When I use stock photos, I like to buy bundles from the same 1-2 photographers so that the style of photography is cohesive!)
Represent your brand vibe well (ie. like colors, and matches the emotional tone or mood you are setting.)
Are very relevant to what you offer (or how your customer/client will feel after saying yes to what you offer)
What is social proof?
Basically anything that lets visitors know that someone out there thinks you are the real deal.
The most obvious example is an “As seen in” section somewhere on the page, if you’ve had your work or product featured somewhere other than your own site or social.
You can also do a bit of name-dropping with a “Trusted By” section, if a past client or customer happens to be someone noteworthy or well-known in your industry.
The simplest way to get started with social proof on your site is to include client or customer testimonials!
These are best kept short and sweet, and adding a name and photo of the testimonial giver (with permission, of course) makes the message feel all the more trustworthy and legit.
I’m not talking about going full on car-salesman vibes, but a call-to-action to whatever it is you are hoping your visitor will do next on your site is an absolute must.
If your visitor is primarily there to take advantage of your free resources (ie. your blog) but never ends up clicking over to your sales page, they may actually have no idea what you offer.
So your home page is the perfect place for a little (customer-focused) self-plug.
Obviously, in the grand scheme of things, getting them to hit that ‘book’ or ‘buy now’ button is the goal, so including a call-to-action about your paid offerings is a great place to start!
But there’s also a super under-rated CTA that might be missing from your home page design…and that is including a way to convert visitors into subscribers!
So it would be wise to also throw in a super-tempting free opt-in offer somewhere close to the top of the page!
(Possibly even before your paid offerings!)
I include my go-to guidelines for adding CTA’s to your home page in my free Home Page Content Planner.
Further suggested reading:
Let’s face it. Most of us are skimmers.
Rarely do we take the time to truly read every word on a page.
(Rude….since it took you legit hours of staring at a blank cursor on the page before coming up with your extra-witty website copy…but true nonetheless!)
So what happens when a visitor shows up and sees wall-to wall text?
Wave goodbye, because whether physically or just mentally and emotionally, your site visitor has left the building.
An equally disastrous thing to have happen is for visitors who are genuinely trying to engage to get confused about where on the page to look next!
So breaking up your copy (the written bits) and keeping sections short and super to the point is the best way to get your messaging heard!
A few easy ways to break up content:
Using contrasting colors or backgrounds to indicate the start of a new section
Using different fonts to create clear section headings and make copy more skimmable
Adding a simple line or on-brand design element between sections
Use allll the whitespace (see next tip!)
Whitespace is basically anywhere on your site where content isn’t happening.
It doesn’t even need to be white! It’s just blank background space to offset and balance out all the other things happening on the page.
Having all your design elements too close to each other on the page is a surefire way to cause overwhelm for your site viewer, and can cause your CTAs and important copy to get swallowed up on the page.
So add in some whitespace.
Then, when you think you have enough, add in some more.
Half the fun of designing a site is getting to shop all the hundreds of gorgeous fonts your site-building platform has to offer.
And when you’ve finally found thee perfect font – the one that just screams ‘you’ – it’s tempting to use it everywhere.
But this is one of those cases where too much of a good thing is not a good thing, so use that prized font sparingly in order for it to have the impact you are hoping it will.
Pro-tip: Whatever fonts you choose, you want to make sure they are also available in the other softwares you use to create marketing materials for your business so that everything looks cohesive and on-brand.
Even if you do a fabulous job of keeping your written content short, it’s still super easy for skimmers to miss out on your most valuable call-to-actions if you are simply linking bits of your text in a sentence.
Make sure that for every action you are hoping visitors will take, there is some sort of super clearly labeled button or graphic to draw their eye.
Like I mention in my free Home Page Content Planner, less is more when it comes to asking your site visitor to take action, so make sure to think long and hard about what you’d like your top 1-3 CTA’s to be and make them impossible to miss.
Ditch site-building overwhelm (and finally build the home page your business has been begging for!)