How Much Content Should I Have on My Home Page
As little as possible is the quick-and-dirty answer to this question.
Unless you have a one-page website, most of your content will be on other pages, so the function of the home page will be to help visitors decide where to begin. If the home page on an average website is too busy, you make the decision difficult or impossible, and visitors will leave.
Because visitors can enter your site through any page at all, your name, logo, tagline (a one-line description of your site), header graphics, and navigation should tell visitors who you are, what you do, where you do it (if relevant), and the main links to the rest of your site. Your home page might elaborate a bit on these points, but its primary task is to get visitors excited about one or a couple of actions they can take on your site.
Whether you want visitors to learn more, sign up, subscribe, buy, donate, or share, the home page is your prime real estate for motivating those actions.
There is no right or wrong about the content you should put on your home page, other than to say if visitors aren’t clicking any deeper or taking the actions you’ve suggested, you either need to rewrite/design the content or find something new. Whatever the content is, keep the text short, focused, and clearly written (and any graphics need to be the same).
Common Content Mistakes for Website Home Pages
One of the most common home page mistakes is to treat it like the About page. Details who you are or what your company about does not belong on the home page, although a quick summary often does (with a link to the About page). What visitors are actually looking for in home page content is your recommended about what’s newest, most useful, and/or most important.
The danger of not staying focused on the needs of your visitors is that everything on your site is useful and important to you. The result is that the home page can become congested over time.
Each addition seems absolutely vital at the time until soon the home page is so crammed with information that visitors are overwhelmed and nothing gets noticed. Here are a couple of suggestions to prevent or at least minimize home page bloat:
- Follow the principle of one in, one out. Whenever you add something to the home page, take something else away. If you absolutely cannot take something off, maybe what you were going to add was not important enough and has to find a different place on the site
- Plan for additions by creating an area on the home page that is meant for change more frequently than the others. A featured content box is one example – even better if it’s a mini slideshow displaying four or five items at a time. Or you can have an area on your sidebar for “internal advertisements” that clicks through to other parts of the site or simply announces something you have to offer.
Not only will these areas make it easier for you to keep the home page lean but returning visitors will also know where to look for the latest information.
One final point about home pages: If your audience is primarily local (and for large portion of business sites on the Web, that’s the case), make it very clear on the home page. I mentioned earlier that your header should mention the region you cover, but the home page is a chance to play with this. Use local references in your copy (“located in the heart of the West Side” or “just steps from Chinatown”); have quotes from local media; show images that capture a neighborhood. This is about more than letting them know where you are; it’s about showing you’re part of the community and making the visitor feel at home (“I love going to that festival, too” or “I read that review, too”).