How your homepage is like a first date
Today we are going to be comparing your website homepage to a first date, where your date does nothing but talk incessantly about themselves. What does dating have to do with your website visitors and your website homepage?
Well, when you go on a date with someone, you’ve already decided that you were interested enough to say yes. You’ve gone on the date. You’re there because there’s something about this person that intrigues you, at least a tiny little bit, and you are willing to go on that date.
But if you sit down across the table from someone on a date and they simply talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk, it’s not going to be a very successful first date. Sure you want to get to know them. Of course you do. That’s why you’re on a date with them. You want to get to know them better.
So, it’s not that you don’t want them to talk at all, and it’s not that you don’t want them to talk about themselves at all. But really, you’re interested in knowing if they’re interested in you. If they know how to listen, you want to know what they value. You are wondering why they asked you out. What is it about you that they value?
If they just keep talking and talking about themselves, or about anything, and you don’t get an opportunity to be a part of that conversation then you’re probably just going to zone out and you won’t hear much at all. You’re not going to remember much from the conversation other than the fact that it annoyed you.
I want you to treat your website homepage like a first date, the people who come there, they already know something about you. They were intrigued enough to want to learn more, so they came to your homepage.
Most of the time when someone comes to your homepage, it’s because they already know you in some way. Either they clicked on a link on Pinterest and they read a blog post. Then they decided they liked that blog post so they go to your homepage. Or their friend told them about you, so they typed in your homepage directly. Or they know you on social media and they finally went to your profile and clicked on the link to your homepage.
Most of the time when people land on your homepage, it’s because they are already interested in you, even if it’s just a tiny little bit. And the question they’re asking is, are you interested in them? What do you value? Why did you create this website? Why do you want to help them? Why do you want to have a relationship with them? Those are the questions they’re seeking answers to and if you just keep talking, they’re going to zone you out.
3 common mistakes people make on their homepage
Your website homepage is your chance to show them that you really care about them. As I have worked with website design clients over the last several years, I have found a few common themes.
- They want to make their homepage their blog page. When you go to their homepage and all you see are a list of their most recent blog posts.
- They want to tell their entire life story on their homepage. This is why I do what I do. These are all my credentials. This business has been in my family for 16 years. I’ve always loved blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
- They want to put every product they’ve ever created, and every single person they’re an affiliate for, all over their homepage.
Think about what this is doing to your site visitor; it is making you appear very self-centered and it is overwhelming to them.
How you might be causing information overload
Let me give you a fun little math problem here. I like math. I know most people don’t. But this one should be simple enough.
- If you have one choice on your homepage, one thing that your visitors can do, then there are only two decisions they can make. They can click on that button and do what you’re asking you to do, or they can leave.
- If you have two choices, two calls to action, they now have three choices: Button A, Button B, or leave.
- If you have three buttons, they now have four choices, but guess what? Once you get up to four buttons, they now have eight choices. And this is because they have to compare each item. So not only do they have to compare A to B, like in the instance where they have two buttons, they have to compare A to C and A to D then they have to compare B to C and B to D and they have to compare C to D. So now there are suddenly eight different decisions that they are making. They still have five choices. They can choose one of the four buttons or they can leave, but they have eight different decisions to make in order to choose.
And it just goes up from there. So when you give them five options, they have 11 choices to make. When you give them six, they have 16 choices to make. Now think about it. What if you put 15 blog posts on your homepage? They now have 97 different decisions to make – information overload is a real thing. It’s a big deal.
When you give your website visitors too many things to look at, too many choices to make, they will very quickly become overloaded and leave. This is what happens when you’re on a date with somebody and they blabber on for three hours, you zone them out. You make the decision of not processing any of that information because it is too overwhelming. This is what happens when you have too many decisions, too much information on your homepage, people zone you out and they default to making no decisions at all.
Let’s look at this a different way. If you were to go into a higher end clothing store, there would be a clerk who would come up to you and ask, “what can I help you with?” Even if you told that clerk, “no” because you were afraid that they would sell to you, you still want a guide. You may not choose the person as a guide, many people will, but even if you don’t choose that person as a guide, you still want the store to be well organized.
If you are looking for shirts, you can look up above and see a sign that tells you where the shirts are and you can walk to that area. You don’t want shirts and pants and dresses and shoes all mixed together on the same rack. You want them well-organized so that you can find what it is that you are looking for.
The same is true of your homepage. If you just throw up 15 different blog posts that are all on a bunch of different topics, you are going to confuse people and leave them frustrated. They are going to leave your website.
In the marketing world, this is called bouncing. They are going to come to your homepage and leave without going anywhere else. They’re going to bounce right off of it, because it is like a big trampoline. It’s really hard to stay on because it is so confusing and overwhelming to them.
I have been reading a book called “The Organized Mind,” by Daniel Levitin. He talks about how it’s scientifically proven that there is a limit to the number of decisions we can make each day. Each person’s limit might be slightly different, but the more decisions we make, the worse decision-makers we become throughout the day. It takes longer and we are more likely to make the wrong decision.
This is really important for you to understand. Your homepage is not just your junk drawer where you throw anything and everything that doesn’t have a space. You don’t want it to be where all your blog posts are. You don’t want it to have your life story and every product you’ve created and every person you’re an affiliate for, it’s too much. It is way too overwhelming and you are going to exhaust your website visitors. They will default to making either no choice at all or the wrong choice.
How to make over your homepage so it actually helps your visitors
So how do we solve this? How do we stop making our homepage the junk drawer of our website? I have a few tips for you.
Separate your website homepage into eight sections.
If you want to know more about these eight sections, you can check out episode #69 of The Goodness Squad podcast. Better yet, if you want even more detail, you can head over to my website DesignedForGoodness.com and sign up for the MAP Method Makeover, where you can watch me make over a real client’s website using the MAP Method. This includes these eight sections, but each of these sections has a purpose.
If we want to tie this back into that first date idea, you are going to answer questions, right? Are you interested in your website visitor? Do you care about them? Do you listen to them? What do you value? Why did you ask them out? Basically, why are you interested in helping them?
The first section is the ask out. It’s the, “do you want to go on this date with me?” It’s also called the magnet section and the purpose of it is to both attract and repel people.
You attract the right people and you tell everybody very quickly, within just a few seconds, if they’re on the wrong webpage. If they continue to scroll down your website, it’s them accepting that date with you. Now they want to know if you listen to them? Do you care about them?
The next few sections are called the FOMO section and the transformation section. This is where you show them that you listen to them. You have heard and understand what their problems are. This is where your information inventory comes into play. We talked about your information inventory in episode #88 and we dug deep into it in episode #80. This is where you get the language you need to make your website visitor feel heard, understood, and important.
The connection section is another section inside of the MAP Method and the purpose of this section is to tell them why you’re interested in them, why you want to help them and form a relationship with them.
The process section is telling them what your future will be like if you kept dating this person. You want to know that on the first date, right? You want to kind of picture how it’s going to go. Is it going to be really complicated and overwhelming? Or is it going to be simple and easy? The process section is your chance to answer that question for them.
The call to action section is you asking somebody on a second date.
In addition, each of these sections should be about the size of someone’s screen. Now, this is difficult because you’ve got phones and tablets and laptops and huge desktops. We have to do the best we can, but in general, every single time someone scrolls down, one section should fit in their screen. So they’re only focused on one concept with you at a time.
The very top section, the magnet section that’s attracting and repelling, it should fit before they scroll. Then once they scroll past that section, they’re going to see your FOMO section and all they’re learning about in the FOMO section is the problems that they have. They’re learning that you understand their problems. They scroll down a little further and they’re looking at the transformation section. Then they scroll down a little further and all they see is the process. So it’s one step at a time. You are the guide in that high-end clothing store, walking them to exactly what it is they need next.
3 additional ways to help people on your homepage
Three more tips for making your website homepage less overwhelming and much easier for your website visitors to consume and use.
2 – A maximum of 2 calls to action on your homepage
I don’t want you to have three or four or five or 15 different choices that they can make. Remember, 15 choices is actually 97 decisions. Two max – one is a product that they can purchase from you and two is the opportunity to sign up for your email list. That’s it. They have two choices. That’s all they can do on your homepage.
That is asking them on a second date, instead of asking them on a second date by saying, “would you like to go to olive garden? the movies? Thanksgiving point Gardens? The roof in Salt Lake? Church History Museum?” You’re not going to give them 10 different offers. But you might, when you ask someone on a second date, you might say, “Hey, would you prefer to go to Olive Garden or Chili’s?” You give them a very simple decision.
That’s what you’re doing on your homepage. Give them two choices for the type of second date they’re going to have with you. If you do not yet have a product, it should be joining your email list.
3 – Keep your paragraphs short and use lots of headings and subheadings
We don’t read websites. Truly, be honest with yourself. When’s the last time you read every single word of someone’s website homepage, about page, or even a blog post? We scan it. We look for headings. We decide if it is worth the time for us to read first. And even then. half the time we get interrupted. Your site needs to be scannable. If all they read on your website are your main headings, they need to still have a very clear picture of what it is you do, who you help and why you want to help them. Use headings and subheadings. Keep your sentences and your paragraphs short.
4 – Use bulleted and numbered lists
This breaks up your text. Again, it makes it more scannable. It also makes it easier to consume and to read.
So, four ways we stop making our homepage the junk drawer and creating information overload for our people:
- Create a homepage using the eight sections in the MAP Method
- Have a maximum of two calls to action
- Make sure you use short sentences, short paragraphs with lots of headings and subheadings
- Use bulleted and numbered lists
Create your Homepage using the MAP Method
If you would like more help designing your website according to the MAP Method, you can head over to my website where you can enroll in the MAP Method Makeover, where you get to watch me make over a client’s website so that it makes her more money and better serves her people.