Opening Page - Your First Impression Lasts!

First impressions count!

Of all the pages on your website, the opening or home page is the one that instantly makes a good impression or, causes the potential customer to hit the ‘back’ button and leave.

Returning to the magazine cover analogy, the opening page of your website needs to summarise your business and tempt the viewer into the inner pages, where the detail can be displayed.

What are the three most important reasons that a potential customer has come to your site?

These three things need to be the three products or services that you would like a customer to buy/enquire about. They could be your most profitable services, something new you want to promote or something unique that only you offer. Whatever you choose you to need to avoid trying to put absolutely everything you do on the home page. Too much information will cause ‘Info Overload’ in the viewer and may cause them to look for a more simplistic website that is easy to understand.

Opening Page - Your First Impression Lasts!

Click on the Image to Enlarge

Above the fold

There is an old newspaper printing phrase ‘above the fold’. This relates back to the folding of newspapers and how only a half to a third of the paper would show when stacked on the newsstand. As a result, the area above the fold was a prime real estate for headlines and adverts.
In screen terms, the ‘fold’ is the bottom of the screen, and you need to focus on making sure your important messages and ideas are seen in this first screen area. People will scroll down, but only if they are interested in what you have said above the fold.

The image is the W3 website opening page. As you can see, we have limited information, but in less than 50 words people can see we want to help them, we build websites and online shops, and we want to give them free information to help them.

You need to ensure your ‘Above the fold’ content is as relevant and interesting as you can. This is crucial.

Opening Page - Your First Impression Lasts!

Click on the Image to Enlarge

Keep It Simple (stupid)

I do believe that you should have some text on your opening page that in two simple sentences (and ONLY two sentences) introduce your business.

For example:
‘At Bob's window cleaning, we have been providing services to the Wellington area for over 25 years. In this time, we have built a reputation for safe, clean and effective workmanship. Call our office today for an obligation free meeting. ’


‘Cake making is not just a craft, for all the staff here at Cakes4you it is our passion. Let us create the perfect cake.
To help you celebrate your occasion in style. From our Hamilton based kitchen, we bake and ship nationwide. Look at our cake display page to see our satisfied customers.’

Each of these examples explains who the company is, what they do and where they do in a statement that can be read easily in less than 15 seconds. Be brief, be accurate, be clear.

You do not want to pack too much into the opening page. Look at the covers of magazines; they have headlines, tempting titbits and summaries that entice the reader to open the magazine. It is the same with the opening page of your site.

As a rule of thumb, you should include no more than five key messages or decisions on your front page.


Call To Action

The number one thing you MUST, I repeat MUST, include on your front page is an invitation for people to call you. This can be done in the text or as part of a graphic. Read the item 'Calls to Action' to see how essential they are if you want people to contact you.


Products and/or Services

Next, consider your products or services. Do you put a full summary or feature individual items? One well-used method is to have two specific links and one general. The specific links go to the products and services you want to feature or are your 'bread and butter' work. The general link would typically link to a summary of all your product and service areas.

The other three key features vary from company to company. However, the beauty of the Anytime system is that you can change the content, so you can experiment with different content to see what works best. Yes, 'experiment' is the right word as no one has yet come up with the perfect formula for website content, or they would all look the same.


Company Intro

The second 'must have' on the opening page is a quick way to get off this page and to find out about your company. People buy from people, not corporations, especially on a local level. Your visitors want to find out about the people in your company; this allows them to see if your ethics and reasons for being in business fit with their way of thinking. The two-sentence inro helps with this, but you can link this to go to your ‘about page’ for them to find out more about the company or read the staff biographies.


The Image Rotator

The image rotator feature allows you to present a series of ideas on the opening page and link these to more detail. We recommend that you have no more than five images or messages in the rotator. These messages should be brief, to the point, introducing the key services or features of your company quickly and in an interesting way.

So to summarise, the key things to put on the front page are quick and interesting pieces of information

• a link to no more than three products or services
• a brief introduction to your company
• a link to your ‘About Us’ page
• some interesting and informative images in the image rotator
• a ‘Call to Action’

Keep the opening page interesting and allow the visitor to know they have found the right company for their needs. You can tell them the detail on the other pages.


Constant Review (this is an example of a 'call to action')

Once live you should review your opening page monthly, in the same way, a magazine editor will create a new cover for each edition, you need to make sure the links and content on the opening page are relevant for the next four weeks. You need to include a

Portable Document Format (PDF)Opening Page Guide & Work Book
A guide to planning the structure and content of your opening page. Includes all the above and a workboot for ideas. Ccg001 (498kb)