01. Contact info (or link)
Every homepage should include a link to a Contact page, or contact info on the homepage itself.
I recently started looking for a virtual assistant and I found two amazing candidates. Their websites gave me plenty of information about their services and I was really excited to get in touch with both of them. I tried to contact the first assistant but she had no contact page on her site. I couldn't find an email address, a phone number or anything. She didn't even have social media buttons, so I couldn't even drop her a Facebook message! I later realized her email address was at the bottom of her About page. Big mistake. Because she didn't make it easy to contact her, I gave up on working with her.
The second assistant I wanted to contact had a clear contact page in her navigation menu. But when I clicked it and began to fill out her contact form, I realized that it was reeeeeally long. I mean essay-length long. I ended up closing her site and continued my search for an assistant.
The moral of the story?
Make it easy for people to contact you. Add a contact page to your site and link to it from your navigation menu. On that page, add your email address and a contact form. I recently took a course called Stress Less & Impress which pushed me to tweak my contact form so it isn't too long but stills asks questions that will give me a really good idea of whether I want to work with the client or not.
If you don't have a tagline on your homepage, you're going out of your way to make things hard for your visitors. Your website should be telling visitors how you can help them as soon as they visit. They shouldn't have to click your About page to find out what it is you actually do. In fact, most people would just click away.
A clear tagline on your homepage should be a short, easy-to-understand sentence explaining what you do. My tagline is 'crafting brands and websites for creative businesses.' Don't get too fancy with your tagline, just keep it simple. Potential clients appreciate that.
Make your tagline the biggest text on your homepage. Why? It's vital that your visitors understand what you do and how you can help them. If they don't, they'll never hire you.
Related post: 10 things you don't need in your sidebar
Every effective homepage needs a nice, hopefully large, image. A homepage that is only filled with words can seem daunting to a visitor; it can feel like hard work. Having a photo on your homepage breaks up the page and adds more personality to your website.
I'm going to go one step further and say that you should have a photo on every page. Your potential clients and customers want to go behind-the-scenes of your business. They want to see examples of your work and, most of all, they want to see your face.
If you own an online shop, photos are more important for you than anyone. In fact, research shows that in an online store, customers think that the quality of a products image is more important than product-specific information, a long description or ratings and reviews. That's how important your website images are!
If you don't have the budget to hire a professional photographer, try adding a few stock photos to your website. I recommend Shay Cochrane, Death to the Stock Photo or Up Styled Shop.
04. Opt in
I personally believe that every website should have an opt-in on the homepage (and hopefully other pages too!) In fact, when I'm designing a website for a client, I always discuss the pros of featuring an opt-in on their homepage, especially if they've told me they don't want one.
An opt-in is the best way to capture leads and filter them through your sales funnel. (There's a fun video tutorial and worksheet on creating your own sales funnel in The Shelancers Club!)
Most people don't purchase from a website the first time they visit. And when they've gone away, they sometimes forget the name of a website even if they loved it! That's why it's up to you to capture their name and email through an opt-in. When you do that, you are able to continually send them emails providing them with priceless advice and reminding them of the amazing ways you can benefit their business.
05. Social media
You don't need social media icons in your header or sidebar but please, pretty please, try and remember to place them in your footer.
When people visit your website, they sometimes want more than one way of following you. Some people want to snoop behind-the-scenes of your business before buying from you! So you should give them options. You don't want a potential client to have to manually search your name on Instagram so they can see what kind of person you are before hiring you.
I'm not telling you you need to join all major social media platforms (because you don't), but I am telling you you need to make your social media pages easily accessible.
Clients like to see what you're like behind-the-scenes by scoping your social media accounts before investing thousands of dollars in you. One business owner recently posted in a Facebook group asking if people could recommend coaches, and do you know what one of her requirements was? She wanted each coach to leave the URLs of their verified social media accounts. It sounds a little crazy right? But people like doing business with real people! Our social media profiles build trust with potential clients.
Is it ever OK to not feature social media buttons on your website? There are some exceptions. If you're selling to consumers, not businesses, you could probably get away with it. After all, not all business types need social media accounts to thrive, but I personally think you should include them anyway. Read Alexanda's post on why she stopped using social media for business if you'd like more info on that!