For most of you, it will be the most viewed page on your website. To say that it’s important is a bit of an understatement. But what makes a great homepage? This is a question we face daily at Radiate Digital.
There was a time when homepages were compact and cluttered boxes nearly bursting at the seams with texts and tiny pictures. There were reasons for this.
Back when ‘surfing the net’ was still a term, most people did their browsing on 15 inch computer monitors using dial-up.
Thankfully times have changed, and for the most part, longer, spacious homepages reign supreme. But why? Why are these long homepages so popular? Why are they a good fit for your website?
This is something we’ve struggled to explain to a number of clients who don’t always grasp how a long homepage works, and why they should go with it. Now, what we’re saying here is our opinion, but we have quite a bit of experience in the subject, and we’re all pretty heavy internet users ourselves.
(He did it for the clip-art)
1. Internet Users Scroll (All Day)
When the internet was first becoming a thing, most mouses (or mice, if you prefer) featured one or two buttons and no ability to scroll. You either had to drag that little bar on the right side of your window or use the arrows keys.
Maybe you still do that. That’s weird fine.
Now, whether you’re using a mouse or a track-pad of some sort, there’s probably some sort of scrolling functionality built in. Your mouse is made to scroll, and most people have gotten used to that.
With newsfeeds, Twitter feeds, tumblr blogs, and more, internet users are very comfortable with the idea of scrolling through long (and often, unending) webpages.
The same is true for mobile users. Apps like Flipboard are built specifically around the idea of scrolling endlessly till you get to where you want to go.
Simply put, savvy website users are not afraid of or confused by scrolling. They expect to scroll. Many even love to scroll. So let them scroll.
2. You Can’t Control the User’s Screen Size
Some people hesitate on the long homepage because they want the visitor to see everything at once. This is great in theory, but impossible to predict in execution.
As I mentioned before, there was a time when 15 inch computer monitors were very common. That time is long gone. And with it, any standard computer screen size or shape has gone with it.
A person might be looking at your site on a 5in smartphone, a 10in tablet, a 15in MacBook, or a 30in computer monitor. Try as you might to design a homepage everything will show up all on once on the screen, you’re not really going to succeed.
Some amount of scrolling will most likely be needed.
3. You Can Control the User Experience
Website users can be a little unpredictable. With all of those menu tabs and call-to-action buttons to click, they can go anywhere, clicking things and random, trying to find what they need.
And before you know it, you’ve lost them.
That’s where the long-form homepage comes into play. Who knows your business better? You or the customer?
Who knows what you can do for them? Who knows why you’re better than the next guy? Who knows where you would like the customer to end up?
A lengthy homepage can act as a journey for your users to take, starting with the big broad message telling them who you are and ending with an irresistible call to action at the bottom.
You start with that first section. It tells you who we are and what we do. This is considered to be “above the fold”. Regardless of screen-sizes, this section will be mostly viewable on any given device.
From there, a visitor can either scroll down or click the button that will do it automatically for them. The remainder of the homepage is broken down into separate sections that tell potential customers just about everything they’d need to know about us up front.
By the time they reach the end, they should have a pretty good idea of whether or not we’re what they’re looking for. This gives us a certain amount of control we couldn’t have with an old-fashioned homepage.
4. Because the Internet Says So
Look at web design blogs, best websites of 2014, etc., and you’ll see that most of the top performers have lengthy homepages. In addition, there have been studies that have shown longer pages usually outperform shorter pages.
In the past, a homepage gave you a chance to quickly shout out what was most important. Now they can provide you the opportunity to tell a story. Everyone loves a good story.
The truth is, many people who visit your website will never even go past your homepage. With the right homepage design, they won’t have to.
Are there exceptions? Is it possible that a short and simple homepage is best for you? Sure.
But chances are, in our experience, it’s best to go long.
What do you think of long homepages? Love them? Hate them? Tell us why!