Tim Ash is all about conversion. He makes a living helping clients optimize their online presence so they can successfully convert initial interest into customers. And he especially worries about homepages.
“Your poor overloaded homepage,” he writes in a recent ClickZ column. “Just like Atlas, it carries the weight of the world on its shoulders. Under the staggering load of all this content, your homepage is groaning and not fulfilling its purpose.”
By trying to serve everyone, the homepage often becomes a confusing and jumbled mess, says Ash. “Unfortunately, the bottom line for you is lower conversion rates.”
He offers a few remedies:
- Begin with the end in mind. The purpose of the homepage is to get people off the homepage. It should direct them deeper into the site toward more targeted content. The sooner they get to their specific reason for visiting, the better.
- It’s not a Democracy. Remember the primary goal of the homepage, which is to focus on key conversion actions that have a measurable impact on revenue. That means Admissions gets all the prominence it needs. And the library doesn’t make the cut.
- Reduce the visual clutter. Graphic designers are rarely trained in maximizing conversion and they get bored with conventional production-oriented work. Keep them on a short leash, reminding them that unless a visual element supports a key conversion action, it should be removed.
By emphasizing too many items on a web page, by overwhelming visitors with graphic over-design, we destroy their ability to find key information and paralyze them from making a decision, says Ash. Instead, we should lighten the load and create a simple environment so people can easily find what they want — and what we consider mission critical.
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Read more about our authors. Ray Ulmer, public relations director at TargetX, has been involved in higher education marketing for more than 25 years, including serving as executive director of communications at La Salle University and director of public relations at Drexel University. He has also worked in corporate marketing and advertising.