How long will people stay on your website before leaving? The answer: Within 5 to 20 seconds unless you clearly communicate what you offer and that you can be trusted. With every image you use and every line of copy you write, you’re either serving your customer’s story or confusing them. In this post, I’m going to guide you through some helpful tips to make sure you’re not confusing your customer with their initial view of your website.
We will call this first view the “above the fold” view. This term comes from the newspaper industry and refers to where the newspaper folds in half. On a website, it’s what your customer sees on your homepage before scrolling. Think of your above the fold messaging like a first date. You’re not going to tell your entire life history on a first date, right? So why would you on the front page of your website?
If you'd rather listen to this post than read it, you're in luck! Use the SoundCloud audio to listen to this post. You can also download and take it on the go, just like a podcast. The audio version has some additional details as I dive a little more into each point. ENJOY!
HOW TO CREATE COMPELLING ABOVE THE FOLD CONTENT:
Is your primary navigation menu short?
Have no more than 8 primary navigation options. Remember, clutter is the enemy of your website! If you think that you can’t possibly have less than 8 options, consider these questions:
- Are there any pages that are less important and could be moved to the footer navigation?
- Are there any pages that could be combined? For example, most businesses do not actually need a testimonials page, it’s more effective to have testimonials throughout the website.
- Are there any pages that could be a drop-down option from another page. For example, you’ll see on my website, the portfolio link drops down to 2 options “portfolio” and “client list”.
Are the options on your primary navigation menu clear?
Unclear and cluttered navigation is the quickest way to get someone to exit your website. If your customer doesn’t understand what the navigation option means IMMEDIATELY, then it’s not clear enough. Be as crystal clear as possible remembering that your customer might not understand your cutesy phrases.
Here are some common changes to make:
“Blog” not “Journal”
“Contact” not “Say Hello” or “Let’s Connect”
“About” not “Your Favorite Designer” or “Who We Are”
“Services” not “What We Do”
Is there a call to action?
If you're doing business right, then often people will land on your website, and be totally ready to take the next step of purchasing, setting up a call, or downloading a freebie. They need to know immediately how to do this. I highly recommend having a button above your primary navigation encouraging customers to “buy now”, “set up a call”, “download a freebie” or whatever your offering might be.
Is what you offer communicated clearly and concisely?
That opening statement on your website should be a quick overview of what you can offer and possibly how it will make the customer’s life better.
Here are a couple examples from my client's websites:
- “Empowering women to design success on their own terms, and live life by their own terms.”
- “We make show-stopping desserts that are almost too unbelievable to eat”
- “I help small businesses get focused & create a marketing strategy that works for them to grow their business.”
- From my website: “Designing brands and websites that help you create a captivating and profitable business.”
If the viewer can’t tell what you offer on the above the fold view of your website, then you’re likely losing sales.
Are there compelling and relevant images or videos?
Remember, EVERYTHING on your website should serve a purpose. This includes your images. The first image or video someone sees on your homepage is the most important one on your website. Choose content that is both engaging and relevant to what you offer.
Are there links to your social media?
If social media is a tool you’re using to grow your business, then you definitely want your social media links to be as easily accessible as possible! I recommend putting the icons for the top 3 social media sites you use in your primary navigation. Be sure to make these links open in a NEW window/tab, so that the viewer is not exiting your website when they go to view your social media.
Other things to sometimes add:
- If the location of your business is important, consider putting this above the primary navigation. For example, my client Oh Crumbs Bakery serves the Middle Tennessee area. I put this information in the left corner above the navigation, that way the viewer doesn’t have to waste time searching the website to make sure the bakery can help with their event.
- When your site is heavy in content or when it’s primarily a blog, it’s a good idea to put a search bar in your primary navigation to make sure the viewer can easily find what they are looking for.