One of the things that’s always been interesting to me when it comes to website design is that most people spend a ton of time and money on making the home page of their site as elaborate and impressive as possible, but then essentially ignore most of the other pages on their site.
I’d guess that most people spend 80% of their design effort tweaking their home page, and then 20% is spent on every other page of their site combined.
This is a big mistake in my opinion and today I’m going to lay out a few reasons why your website home page is not as important as you think it is.
But before I get into that, I want to make something clear. I’m not saying that your home page isn’t important – it’s very important and you should definitely spend some time and effort making it the best it can be. What I’m saying is that it’s not any more important than every other page on your site, and in many ways, it’s actually less important than some other pages on your site.
Also, please understand that I’m referring to sites on which you’re at least semi-regularly posting fresh content. If you’re not posting any content on your site and it’s just a static website, then this doesn’t really apply to you and it also doesn’t matter because if you’re not posting content on your site nobody’s going to come to your site or care about it anyway. If you don’t have content, you’ve got bigger problems.
Ok, here’s three reasons why your website home page is not as important as you think it is…
1. Not As Many People See Your Home Page As You Think
On almost all websites – from a comedian’s personal site to a major media site – the home page receives a small fraction of the total page views that the site generates. In most cases, people enter websites on specific content pages, which they get to from links that have been shared via social media or posted on other blogs and websites.
Think about your own websurfing – most of the sites you go to you probably enter on specific content pages as opposed to their home page.
Don’t spend the majority of your time worrying about your home page while the majority of your audience is looking at other pages!
Here’s some stats that back up this point: My Connected Comedy home page only accounted for 15% of the total pageviews I got on the site in the past month. Yes, I post a lot of content but I also checked the stats for a couple comedians I know who post new content no more than a couple times a month and the numbers are similar.
In one case, the comedian’s home page only accounted for 28% of the page views on his website and in another case the comedian only saw 54% of his page views coming to his home page.
2. You Can Only Get One Click On A Page
One of the other interesting things about home pages is that people tend to pack them with a million different options for readers to click on. Your instinct is going to be that you want your home page to showcase everything you have to offer and all the amazing stuff you’re creating (or have done in the past).
But that overlooks one simple point: a reader can only click one link on a page before they get taken away from that page.
Rather than thinking about how you can showcase a million options on your home page, you’re probably better served by thinking about what one thing you really want your reader to click on and making that prominent. Whether your home page has 100 different links for people to click or just one, you can still only get one click on the page before they leave the page and this is another reason why your home page isn’t quite as important as you may think it is.
Your reader’s first click may come from your home page, but their second click is going to come from that next page. So rather than worrying about adding options to your home page, spend some time thinking about what you want them to click to next after they’ve made it off the home page.
3. Your Home Page Is More For Strangers Than Fans
As a general rule, your fans are more important than people who don’t know you and most of your fans probably won’t be going to your home page. Ideally, since they’re already fans of yours they will have connected to you via your mailing list or social media channels, and they’ll be heading to your website via links that you’ve promoted to content pages. Sure, they may occasionally hit up your home page, but most likely they won’t.
So who is spending time on your home page? People who don’t really know you, or are curious to learn more about you, or just wound up there by accident. Don’t get me wrong, those people are valuable and you’re going to want to try to convert them into fans, but they’re not your core audience (yet).
If you’re spending more time worrying about your home page than your content pages, then you’re actually spending more time worrying about people who don’t know you than the ones who are already your fans. Just something to think about…
6 thoughts on “3 Reasons Your Website Home Page Isn’t As Important As You Think It Is”
Interesting thoughts Josh. I’m in the process of creating my website now and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to put on my home page. This was a good ‘outside’ look at things that has me leaning towards a less is more approach. Thanks!
Any thoughts on WordPress vs Tumblr for your website? I see WP as the traditional choice, but it seems many people are starting to use Tumblr, no doubt because following is much easier with that.
I’m a developer in addition to a comedian, and I’ve spent a lot of time in both arenas. Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros to each:
Tumblr: super easy, incredibly social, and mobile-posting friendly
WordPress: super scalable, tons of add-ons/plug-ins, and search-engine friendly
Which of those sounds like what you’re into? Check out http://www.samisfunny.com for an example of what you can do with a tumblr site (note: based on some feedback, I’m going to be completely redesigning, but the content elements will be the same)
Your kind of site is exactly why I’m considering Tumblr. I’m actually more familiar with WordPress and used to run a blog with it, but for sharing quick comedy things, it seems like more people might follow a Tumblog. How do you layout the content elements in your theme? There are themes that let you turn blocks of content on or off in WordPress, but I don’t see any that are as flexible for Tumblr.
WordPress is much more powerful and gives you a lot more flexibility – however, it’s also less “viral” and more difficult to use if you don’t know anything about basic html or blogging.
Personally, I think it’s a better option for your site if you do have some tech knowledge and plan to take advantage of the flexibility that wordpress offers. Basically, it’s for people who are more “serious” about their websites.
That said, Tumblr is incredibly easy to use and the follow capability and reblog buttons help your content go viral much easier than wordpress. Also, Tumblr’s growing fast and there’s more and more people on it every day.
Personally, I can see a use for both. I run this website off WordPress and then set up a Connected Comedy Tumblr to play in that world as well. I do my main posting on this site, but then post links on Tumblr and use Tumblr to showcase other stuff I want to share that may not warrant a longer post on this site.
I think that makes total sense for this site. I think for me it just comes down to whether the viral nature of Tumblr outweighs the additional power of WordPress..