By using a proven homepage design framework, you can turn your website into a highly effective marketing tool that truly moves the needle for your business. We use this framework as the foundation of every client website we design.
See, in our experience, most business websites are little more than online brochures, failing to convert the traffic landing on their site into real leads and paying customers.
But by designing your homepage strategically, using timeless human psychological principles, you’ll be able to create an instant connection with your potential customers and have them ready to engage with your business.
In other words, no more guess-work design.
Over time, we’ve landed on a strategic homepage design framework that has proven crucial to increasing conversions on client websites, thus increasing the effectiveness of their entire marketing funnel.
This seven-part framework will help compel a potential customer visiting your website to take action, and will create a steady stream of potential clients/customers flowing into your business.
Bottom line, your website’s homepage will finally become a real lead generation machine instead of a static online brochure.
Here’s how it works…
Our homepage design framework divides your page into seven sections that form an intentional narrative format, leveraging the timeless “Hero’s Journey” story structure. Each section has its own specific purpose and its own specific message.
The outline will show you…
- How to make your customer the hero of your brand story.
- What kind of information your customer requires to take action.
- Exactly where to place that info on the page (order matters) and why.
Then, once you’ve created the messaging for each section you can tweak the framework to customize it for the unique characteristics of your business and the needs of your ideal customer.
Here’s a look at the seven sections of our homepage design framework. See if you can apply this to your own website by developing customer-centered messaging for each of the relevant sections.
The purpose of your hero section is to grab the user’s attention, pique their curiosity, and get them scrolling down the page.
You want to imply to the user that scrolling down the page will provide them a particular kind of value. There are lots of techniques for communicating this message, but it all starts with understanding the problem the user is trying to solve.
Keep the message extremely clear. Don’t use cute/clever language or insider jargon. You should be able to show a user your Hero section for just a few seconds and have them be able to answer these three questions accurately:
- “What do we offer?”
- “How does it make your life better?”
- “What do you need to do to get it?”
Note: This is a really bad place to talk about your business. Instead, make the entire focus about your prospect’s needs/goals/challenges. I like to think about this section as if your ideal customer is looking into a mirror, especially important if you’re using a background image or illustrations here.
Tip #1: Try to write your copy in the second person, using “you” and “your.” Avoid writing in the third person, using “we” and “our.”
Tip #2: Keep this area very clean, including the nav menu. Don’t overwhelm the user with too much text read and too many places to click.
- A large compelling headline that grabs attention and, ideally, makes an emotional impact.
- Possibly include supporting copy that expands on the headline and communicates benefits.
- A clear call-to-action that tells them exactly what to do next (don’t use vague terminology such as “learn more”).
The purpose of the Hook is to articulate the problem/challenge/pain point of your ideal customer in order to indicate to the user that you understand them and what they are feeling — to create empathy.
If you can, don’t just articulate the problem, articulate why the problem matters to the person you’re talking to (and why it matters now).
This section should make the user feel…
- Relieved, because they’ve found someone who “gets it.”
- Excited, because there’s an inherent suggestion that there’s a solution to their problem. You’re suggesting there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
The message structure for this section is simple: “We know you’re going through/dealing with X. We felt the same way too, until…”
This naturally leads the user into the next section: The Solution.
Tip #1: It’s critical that you know your audience inside and out to get this section right. Start by doing as much research as possible, then create an Ideal Customer Profile that defines the primary problem or challenge your prospect is facing.
Tip #2: When writing copy for this section try to use the exact same words (literally) your customer’s use to describe their problem or circumstance. When you feed someone’s thoughts back to them it creates an instant connection.
The purpose of the Solution section is to articulate a solution to the problem above (duh), but to do so in a way that remains neutral.
Resist the urge to sell your product/service here. The customer isn’t yet ready for the details and, generally, they don’t want to be “sold.”
Instead, give them a vision of the “Promised Land” (ie what life could be like if they get the solution).
You want to tease a vision of what life will be like with your product/service/solution in place, just don’t say “we” or “us” quite yet. Speak in terms of benefits.
The vision should be highly desirable, yet difficult for the prospect to achieve by themselves.
Importantly, since this vision is an image of your prospect’s potential future, it should articulate a new reality or state of being, rather than any specific product or service.
What you’re really promoting here is transformation, not a product or service. You’re selling someone a better version of themselves.
The purpose of the authority section is pretty simple: prove it.
You’re answering the user’s subconscious question, “who the hell are you, and how do I know you’re legit?”
This can be accomplished with testimonials, case studies, client logos, or all of the above.
Note: This section can sometimes be flip-flopped with the next section, The Pitch. Ideally, you want to establish credibility first, but sometimes the story flows naturally from The Solution to The Pitch. Go with what feels natural.
Now that you’ve made a connection with the user, demonstrated you understand their problem, pointed them to a solution to their problem, and established authority… it’s time to make them an offer.
Tell them about how you deliver the solution you described earlier in a unique way. What is your value proposition? Continue to speak in terms of benefits, not features.
Tip: I love to put this message in the context of a 1-2-3 step process to achieve transformation. People are psychologically hard-wired for it. Simple, understandable, approachable. Obviously there’s more to a transformation than three steps, but keep it simple here by distilling it a bit.
The purpose of the opt-in is to get the user to take action. There should be a highly prominent, extremely clear call-to-action that also provides some sort of independent value.
We typically apply one of two options for our clients, depending on which stage of the buyer’s journey we think the customer is in.
If you’re customer is still “kicking tires” in the Consideration stage of the buyer’s journey, we recommend creating a valuable opt-in bonus that your prospect will happily trade their email address for.
That will allow you the opportunity to nurture your new lead with additional touchpoints. You can continue to provide value, demonstrate authority, and stay top of mind until they are ready to purchase.
Since these have become commonplace online, I always encourage clients to give away something they would/could charge for in order to blow the user away with value.
If you think you’re customer has moved into the Decision stage of the buyer’s journey, tell them exactly what to do next to purchase the solution (and encourage them to do it now).
For example, if you have a product business where the customer is purchasing online, push them to the purchase page. For a service business, the next step may be scheduling a consult, filling out a form, or sending you an email.
This is the junk drawer of your website. All those extra navigation links and admin stuff goes here.
This is where you can make it easy for a user to find something specific they’re looking for, instead of digging through endless pages within your site.