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…