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What makes for a good website home page?

Apr 13, 2018

What makes for a good website home page?

Your website home page is essentially a miniature version of your entire website.

Imagine someone never goes to any other page on your site: will the home page cover the basics?

Strategise the main menu items first. 

To determine what your home page needs to include, plan the main menu items first. Most likely you will include (at a minimum):

  • About
  • Process/how we work
  • Niche page (if you have one)
  • Blog
  • Contact

You’ll notice I haven’t included a Services page. In my opinion this is optional – your audience is far more interested in how you do accounting than in perusing a long list of all the accounting services you offer. It doesn’t mean you can’t have one (and most of our clients do have one), but you will still get enquiries even if you don’t have an accounting page, a tax page, a payroll page, a bookkeeping page, and so on.

Once you’ve done that, you now have a clear plan for your home page. It will tell visitors who you are (about), your process (how you work), any specialty areas (niche), your expertise (blog), and how to get in touch (contact).

Naturally your website will have other or different menu items for your particular firm. Some firms have an exclusive niche, so the menu items are crafted around the issues and challenges that niche faces, and what they need. A larger firm may need to focus on their teams, people, departments. An international firm may want to showcase their offices and locations.

When planning menu items, keep it as simple as possible. It may seem fun to change “About” to “Get to know us”, but that could cause confusion. Is it an about page? A contact page? A meet the team page? Say it in the simplest, clearest way possible, whilst still keeping your brand and style intact.

Now, build your home page

Here are my tips for a great home page:

  • Keep main menu items and dropdowns to a minimum. Wherever possible, remove sub-menu items and dropdowns. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but in general the fewer dropdowns the better. Let people get to what they need fast. (And if you have 42 sub-menu items for your services, check how that appears on mobile. You’ll change your mind pretty quickly about whether you need all of them.)
  • Be clear about who you are and what you stand for. The top two ways of standing out as an accountant are by niche, or by brand. If you don’t have a niche or focus area, you’ve got to make it crystal clear to the visitor who your firm is and how you do things, so they have a reason to stick around and read the other pages of your site.
  • Focus more on your brand and style, and your specific process, than the specific ‘services’ you provide. Most people visiting an accountancy firm website have a vague idea of what an accountant does, and they’re not going to be too fascinated by the list of services that every other accounting firm is listing too. Bookkeeping, payroll, company secretarial, management accounts, CFO, outsourced FD, etc…really all they want to know is “what is this accounting firm like” and “what happens when i get in touch”?
  • Have one very clear call to action. This may be something to kick off the relationship with you such as a Start button or a Discovery Call or Get in touch, but whatever it is will be derived from the buyer journey you have defined. How do you want them to get in touch? What information do you need from them first? Do you have any qualifiers you want to include so the wrong sort of people leave by their own choice (rather than wasting your time)?
  • If you have a core content piece or free resource, make this easily accessible from the home page. It could be a PDF guide, a video, an invitation to an event, an infographic…something that teaches or solves a problem without requiring them yet to commit to a relationship with your firm. If you don’t have this piece yet, it may be better to have nothing at all than to simply fill something in. I’ve seen a lot of boring PDF guides, generic whiteboard videos (the kind you buy and get your logo and colours added to), or “free consultation” forms on accountancy firm websites – and it’s very likely that your potential buyer has seen these all, too. Remember how many accounting firm home pages they’ve already skimmed past before coming to yours.

Most importantly, tell them what to do next. Here’s some advice from Chris Marr of the Content Marketing Academy:

“The single purpose of your home page is to help your visitor get to page 2 as quickly and effortlessly as possible. It’s not about you. The statement on your website – also called a ‘you statement’ – should be geared towards helping your prospects understand what problem you solve and how you solve it. In general, your visitors should feel like they are in the right place, and it’s clear what action they need to take next. You don’t want your visitors spending a tonne of time on your home page. Help them get to the next page quickly.”

Things NOT to do on your home page

  • Do not say “Welcome to our website.” (Or “Welcome to ABC Accountants.) It’s 2018. They know they’re on a website. They know they’re on your website (they can see your logo). Get to the point.
  • Remove extraneous mentions of your company name. You don’t need to repeat “At XYZ Accountants we…” and “the team at XYZ…”. People already know what site they’re on, and if for any reason they forget, your brand will do the job of reminding them.
  • Don’t have too many more calls to action or you will confuse. (I’ve seen some accountant websites with over 16 calls to action on the home page alone.)
  • Don’t be too wordy. Use headers, imagery, video, and design that fits with your brand. Save your lots-of-words-content for your blog, guides, and helpful resources.
  • Don’t worry about the “above the fold” stuff too much. There’s really no ‘fold’ anymore anyway – people visit sites from so many types of devices that this has become largely irrelevant. People will scroll. They expect to scroll. Include as much as you need to.

The best suggestion I can give you when working on your website home page is to pretend you are looking for an accountant, do some googling and some social media-ing, and look at about fifty accountancy firm websites. You’ll see patterns and will get a real insight into what quickly impresses, what’s boring, what the old-school sites do compared to the newer ones, how colour and images are used (or not), and how this impacts what you’ll do on your own site.

If you’d like me to do a quick review of your current home page, fill in our diagnostic and drop me a note in the ‘anything else’ box at the end. I’ll glance it over and give you a few specific suggestions.