When Your Site’s Home Page is Not the Home Page

When designing websites, businesses often try to pay special attention to the home page. After all, the home page needs to reflect what the company is about and it needs to exude professionalism. In the early days of the internet, the first page most potential customers would see is the home page. Business owners would use the home page as an opportunity to sell themselves and their credibility. Considering that people can formulate their first impressions of a website in about a second or two, a good home page was exceedingly important.[1]

A Shift in Traffic

In recent years, however, traffic to your website has stopped automatically passing through the home page first. Instead, people are coming to your website through interior pages like the “About Us” page or a blog entry. Indeed, in a survey of around 25 websites, about 40% of all traffic came through “side doors” rather than home pages.[2]

Even The New York Times has had to rethink its strategy as it relates to home pages and interior pages. Over 50% of all traffic to the website originated through “side doors,” and most of that came through search engines.[3] Just two years prior to the release of this data, the pathway to the Times had gone through the home page 50 to 60% of the time,[4] reported in 2013 that 88% of all its traffic came in through interior pages. Only 12% of people who use The Atlantic had even seen the home page.[5]

So, what does all this mean? In short, it illustrates why interior pages need just as much designer attention as the home page. If your entire web design budget goes into making a gorgeous and functional home page, then you’ll be alienating a large percentage of your visitors who may never see that homepage. It has become increasingly important for every page to identify your business and exude professionalism. But, how do you go about doing this?

 interior pages need just as much designer attention as the home page.
interior pages need just as much designer attention as the home page.

Prioritize Every Page

Internet users have been pretty clear about what they want in a website. A total of 76% of respondents in one survey indicated that they just wanted the website to be easy to use.[6]  That’s it. This means, among other things, that the visual design isn’t as important as the functional capacity of the website. It also means that users generally want to be able to navigate through your website with ease no matter where they are.

It’s always in your best interest to keep navigation menus up-to-date and within reach on every page on your website. A lack of adequate navigation on your blog will result in potential clients looking elsewhere for their products or services. It’s also important to have some kind of call to action on each page. This can be as simple as a company phone number or a chat feature. You can also include a newsletter sign-up or social media sharing button on each page.

The content also needs to be pointed, relevant, and brand-specific. You shouldn’t have a single page on your website that is filled with uninteresting blocks of text or simply a sentence that conveys absolutely no usable information. It also goes without saying that your logo (or some defining company feature) needs to be readily visible on each page.

Finally, don’t be afraid to use analytics. You can see where people are coming in to your website, what search terms they’re using, and what devices they’re on. This gives you the ability to cater your content specifically to a wide variety of people.

The goal of a website is to bring in more customers, and you can achieve that goal more easily if your entire website makes a good first impression. The unending prevalence of search engines and social media means that you’re going to get a lot of visitors that come through secondary channels. It’s important to be ready for them when they arrive.

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