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A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Brett Housholder, WSBD market researcher
"I have launched a Web site but people seem to be leaving it quickly after arriving on the home page. What am I doing wrong?" Gary, Newcastle
While all your pages should be designed with the idea that they could be a "landing" page and need to function on their own as a marketing tool, the home page is often the first chance to make an impression. Follow the tips below to keep customers around.
Be clear and immediate. Potential customers are selfish -- they want to know what's in it for them right away. Make sure the home page contains a clear description of what you do, why you do it better than others and what benefits the customer. This description should be featured front-and-center on the main page. If customers are unsure about specific products or services, they will not spend much time trying to figure it out before leaving.
Be brief. Do not write a novel describing yourself or the business. Too much text turns customers away quickly. Online consumers have plenty of other options so they will not spend time digging through several paragraphs of information to find what they are after. Use brief bullet points to describe what you do and why the business is unique.
Keep it simple. Home pages with too many graphics, buttons and links can overwhelm customers. They will not know where to begin and can be distracted by additional content. An aesthetically pleasing site is important, but do not clutter it with "fluff" at the expense of the message attempting to be communicated
Provide a clear call to action. Do not simply tell people what you do and why you are great at it -- ask them to do something -- "visit the products page to start shopping, call us for a free estimate," etc. Provide easily identifiable links that make it obvious to customers how to get to the pages on the site and where they can accomplish what you ask.
Make navigation easy. The home page is the portal to the rest of the site. Make it as easy as possible for customers to get to other pages by grouping links or buttons into navigation bars or menus that are easy to spot.
Feature contact information. Do not make customers search for contact information. Feature it prominently on the home page for an easier search.
A home page is often the first opportunity at grabbing a customers' attention. Make sure it does that instead of driving them away.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.