A website is a startup’s opportunity to distinguish itself from its competitors while also promoting its value and offerings to current and potential customers. An enticing home page with attention-grabbing visuals and a user-friendly interface is sure to boost engagement, but when you’re in a rush to launch, crucial components can be easily overlooked. Unfortunately, the cost of ignoring the basics is high when it comes to converting customers.
To find out which elements are most important — from specific design elements to general principles — 11 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) were asked which must-have elements are critical for any startup to put front and center on their websites. Their answers are below:
Too often a startup will focus the majority of their efforts on making their home page attractive, and that’s certainly important. But what takes precedence to beauty is how a potential customer will interact with your home page. Ask yourself, “What do I want my prospect to do when coming to my website?” The answer to that question should drive every decision. Form follows function.
2. A Creative 404 Error Page
It’s bound to happen. Technology breaks and a potential customer is served a 404 page. Why not look at this inevitable moment as an opportunity to extend a great user experience while clearly communicating your brand? Here is a great example of a company who doesn’t break stride when something goes amiss. Every touch point is an opportunity to tell your story. Don’t let subtle touch points lack creativity.
3. A Strong Call To Action
When someone hits your home page what is the one thing you want them to do? This is critical. You must have a call to action on your home page. This is WHY you have a website: to get leads/prospects/customers. When anyone hits your home page there should be no ambiguity about what they should do (give their email, sign up for free trial, call a number, etc.).
4. An About Us/Explainer Video
When starting a new company, it’s important to quickly and clearly communicate your value proposition. A homepage explainer video is the absolute best way to do this because the majority of visitors to your website will view it before reading anything. Studies show that 80% of traffic will view a homepage video above the fold while conversion rates can increase by 89% on average.
5. Case Studies
Case studies help customers learn about your business and how others have worked with you. We have found that serious users are more likely to read your case studies to see how you helped similar customers with their needs and to get a more tangible and clear perspective of how your business works.
6. Concise Copy
The best websites have very clear and concise copy. Know where your visitors are coming from and write copy that instantly informs them of your value. Good copy is the most important part of converting potential customers.
7. Simple, User-Friendly Navigation
Startups are often so concerned with creativity that they forget about usability. Navigation bars should be easy to find with clearly-labeled titles. While labels like “Hit Us Up” instead of “Contact Us” may sound cool and catchy, they make it difficult for users to find the information they are looking for because they are not instantly recognizable.
8. Links To Social Pages
Although many startup websites are finally getting this right, many still fail to provide links to their social media pages directly on the home page in a visible spot. Most have the idea that they should put their social media links under their “Contact Us” page, which only adds more steps to the process for users. Put your social pages right in front of them so they can check you out!
9. Page Load Time
Keeping your home page clean and simple can significantly impact your conversion rate. Don’t expect all your site visitors to be on high-speed LAN, since more people now browse on their smartphones where Internet speeds can vary. This KissMetrics research shows that even a one-second delay in page response can reduce conversions by 7%, which can be significant for most e-commerce sites.
10. Validation And Credibility
Startups need to communicate to a visitor in fewer than five seconds that they are a credible company that can be trusted. There a few ways to do this through a home page, but one that we see most often is an “As Seen In” bar on the home page listing all of the press the company has garnered. It may seem vain, but it’s a signal to the visitor that other people have vetted and trust the company.