Much like a brick-and-mortar retail storefront, an eCommerce homepage acts as a web user’s first impression of a brand. An Adobe report found that nearly 40% of online users will leave a homepage that is poorly designed, just like real-life shoppers will leave a store if it is unorganized, poorly presented, and unhelpful. By following the homepage best practices listed below, website creators can inspire visitors to engage with their site, leading to more conversions, higher customer satisfaction, and greater customer retention in the long term. In fact, on average, according to a 2015 B2B Web Usability report, 86% of shoppers said that they would explore an eCommerce’s products or services if they were impressed by the homepage alone.
Creating an optimized homepage requires developers to implement strategic designs that will draw potential customers in and offer an unparalleled user experience. This guide will outline optimal homepage practices for usability, branding, SEO, credibility, and design, all essential factors in building a well-rounded eCommerce site.
Creating the perfect homepage template: The key ingredients
Several key ingredients are used to craft an effective and engaging homepage, no matter what products or services a website offers. Incorporating the following elements is the first step towards getting users into the “door” of an eCommerce shop, much like in a brick-and-mortar location. These elements also act as the stepping stones to excellent eCommerce homepage best practices.
- Obvious, always-present search bar: The search bar is one of the most clicked-on links after a user lands on a homepage, making it essential that it is obvious and easy to access. Using a sticky search bar will prevent users from scrolling up if they want to seek something new.
- Prominent USP: A prominent USP will tell customers why they should stick to the site they are on instead of doing another Google search to try and find what they need. A brand’s value proposition should be user-focused and demonstrate the brand’s expertise and authoritativeness in its field.
- Validation layers: On the more technical side of the homepage, validation layers can lead to greater security and authenticity.
- Call to action: Users should be able to take action immediately upon landing on the homepage, with a call to action front and center.
- Social proof: Nothing builds trust and credibility like social proof, making testimonials or reviews highly influential on a customer.
- Visuals: All homepages should consist of some type of graphics, images, GIFs, or videos, as many individuals are visual learners. These factors also ensure that a homepage is interesting and stimulating for the user.
- Speed: Think of speed like long lines at checkout counters in brick-and-mortar stores. Waiting in such lines is frustrating, tiring, and — at worst — will force customers to give up on their purchase and walk away. To avoid this scenario, all homepages should have a fast page load speed with no glitches.
- A well-informed footer: The footer is the perfect place to add all the business details to your website. From contact information, links to social media accounts, or the GDPR terms and conditions, every small detail should be included in your website’s footer. Customers should be easily able to talk with a representative about any questions they have by having access to relevant phone numbers, emails, or chat boxes.
Why a well-structured homepage is essential
When it comes to websites, 94% of first impressions are design-focused. Visitors are looking for an easy-to-use site with clear navigation and an attractive layout. What separates amateurs from professionals and helps visitors move past the first impression is what goes beyond the design. Site and content structure, plugins, text and image elements, or SEO variables are some very important components that need to be taken into account.
If done right, the results of a good website-user experience can be quite impressive. Users scan a website very fast so making your homepage persuasive and striking will surely attract their attention. As a result, they will be more likely to read more about the brand’s story and history, check out its products or services, and engage with the site through social links. A well-designed homepage can lead to higher website traffic and an increased chance of conversions, placing homepages at the forefront of every website owner’s list of priorities.
eCommerce homepage design best practices
The key to decreasing the bounce rate of your homepage is to keep it minimal (but not simplistic) in nature, and avoid common mistakes. All website owners and creators can easily apply a number of the following practices to make their homepage as attractive and user-oriented as possible.
- Minimal layout with visual hierarchy: A comprehensive layout with distinctive elements will create a visually smooth, slick interface that keeps the visitor engaged and makes for convenient navigation.
- Color palette: Colors evoke emotions, so go for something that will not be tiresome for the user; take into consideration your buyer persona, your competition, and your branding. A useful tip is the use of an accent color, one that will create a contrast with the other two primary colors and will highlight important information.
- An effective CTA that stands out: Aim for no more than five words to avoid over-stuffed phrases and use direct, clear messages. Use only one CTA and place it at a visible place, to keep your customers from getting distracted.
- High-quality photos/videos: Consider investing in original photos instead of stock photos that other sites might also use. Your products must be displayed in the best possible quality since your visitors do not have the chance to see their preferred items up close. For a fully detailed presentation opt for high-resolution photos, 3D models, and videos.
- Consistent font and design: Use the same font throughout the page and keep the theme the same to avoid confusion. A coherent aesthetic is important and should encompass every aspect of your brand, your homepage included.
- Things to avoid: For starters, overcrowded graphics, visuals, and text can quickly turn off would-be customers. Bad typography, poorly designed navigation, no white space, or limited color contrast are also some very important ingredients that should be avoided. They will surely give a first bad impression to the user, along with a terrible headache.
Homepage UX best practices
While eCommerce homepage best practices in design are an important factor in capturing users’ attention, usability ensures that a user actually stays on a website and engages with it. A brick-and-mortar store with a beautiful storefront and nice interior quickly becomes less attractive to a customer if they can’t navigate the store, find what they are looking for, or lack assistance from shop clerks. The premise is exactly the same for websites. A homepage that is optimized for UX should include the following parameters.
- Easy navigation and filtering. A homepage should be easy to use, should guide the visitors, and make everything easily findable; reducing your customer’s options will prevent them from getting lost in labyrinths of information.
- Follow simple but important conventions: a sticky brand logo that will always redirect your users to the homepage; a catalog with a filtering system that will aid consumers to find what they are looking for faster and with no hassle; a visible search bar.
- Predictive search functionality that brings customers to the most commonly suggested products or services.
- The page must load fast, run smoothly and not lag. Customers tend to not be particularly patient. (Tip: keep in mind that Google Web Vitals are also very important for SEO as well)
- Make your contact information easily accessible.
- Clear linking and link access. Despite the SEO benefits, providing links to your most successful posts acts automatically as a strong selling point.
- Mobile responsive design is a must; users will definitely abandon an online shop that does not respond well to portable devices.
Homepage header best practices (above the fold)
The header is arguably the most important aspect of the homepage. It’s often the first part of the homepage that users notice, and it sets the tone for the rest of the website. It’s also where users will go to navigate across the website or look for essential information. Therefore, not only should headers answer users’ most sought-after questions, but they should also reflect the site’s organization, effectiveness, and identity. Modern design dictates that everything above the fold is considered a header, so a brand’s visitor should immediately see the following.
- Brand logo and identifier.
- A descriptive tagline that conveys the brand’s identity and reflects its values.
- Essential-Clickable contact information, including names, numbers, email addresses, and relevant physical addresses.
- A sticky search bar that offers the availability of advanced search options and filters to further optimize the user experience.
- A functional drop-down menu.
- A straightforward CTA.
- Validation layers; number for customers, average ratings, key partnerships, feature at sections.
Homepage credibility best practices
Credibility and trust are two must-haves when it comes to eCommerce homepage best practices. Often, visitors will look for the homepage and its design to judge whether a website is trustworthy or a potential scam. If there is outdated information, mistakes in the copy, poor visuals, or a badly-designed layout, the conversion rate will drop significantly. Besides crafting an optimal homepage design, brands can also use a few other tactics to emphasize that their site is safe, secure, and trustworthy.
- Be attentive to your homepage’s performance, relevance and functionality as these are the first three things a customer will notice at first glance.
- Provide product and service descriptions that are specific and precise.
- Add validation layers to increase your customers’ trust towards your brand. Add literally as many as you can, before and after the page fold, to minimize the bounce rate.
- Showcase customer reviews; a crucial element that provides social proof and gravity.
- Showcase your courier delivery companies (logos).
- Showcase your badges/protocols to reduce fear (SSL certificate logo, bank logos, etc.)
- Collaborate with well-known, credible organizations, showcase your trust badges, and include links to articles from news organizations about your brand.
- Do not exclude negative reviews.
- Proofread. Be certain that your copy lacks grammar errors or typos and responds to your audience’s customer persona.
- Include prominent return/refund policies and guarantee of customer satisfaction.
Homepage branding best practices
With hundreds of thousands of new websites popping up every day, there is competition for any kind of business online. That’s why it’s imperative for retailers to optimize branding on their homepage and show users why it stands out among its competitors. Therefore, positioning is another pivotal piece of eCommerce homepage best practices.
The key concept is consistency in visuals, language, and identity. A homepage that conveys the business is unsure of its identity, or one that jumps around to different ideas, seems less credible. Refrain from such mistakes and try implementing the recommendations below.
- Use your logo’s color palette in your homepage design.
- Research the websites of your competitors for a better understanding of your target market.
- Identify how you differ from your competitors and highlight your strengths on your homepage. (USPs)
- Promote your online presence and the launch of your website via your physical stores.
- Create coherent copy that communicates your brand’s purpose.
- Choose a theme that reflects your brand values.
- Be consistent with the presentation; no mismatched fonts, buttons, or visuals.
- Avoid mystery; users should know exactly what your brand is and what you provide from the get-go.
Homepage SEO best practices
Last but certainly not least in eCommerce homepage best practices is the incorporation of SEO strategies. Incorporating strategic SEO practices helps inform search engines like Google what products or services a brand offers, and therefore increases the brand’s appearance on relevant SERPs.
- Design & optimize the site’s taxonomy: Besides your visitors, you also have to show Google where your most valuable content lies. Site structure is important for SEO because it allows search engines to understand your brand and your product.
- Add category grids towards your most important categories/sections to boost their organic performance. Repeat on seasonal campaigns as well.
- Add relevant backlinks to increase authority as search engines weigh websites with more backlinks as more credible. A skillful internal linking strategy is important for your SEO strategy, as it will lead search engines to your best content.
- Conduct keyword research before defining the titles on a homepage and revamp the title and the meta description accordingly.
- Use both branded and theme-based keywords for your content.
- Ensure all headers and titles include primary keywords while also being authentic and engaging.
- Feature the most recent content, including any recent blog posts or newly added products or services.
- Make your webpage secure with HTTPS and an SSL. Add the correct tags in your HTML code and use valid structured data.
Additional eCommerce site best practices
Website homepages are not the only part of a site that drives customer conversions, increases loyalty, and garners a return on investments. Many other pages of an eCommerce site should implement similar strategic layouts, content, and user functionality to create an overall exceptional site experience.
- Category Page best practices: Optimized category pages ensure products are properly grouped together, making the user-browsing experience much smoother.
- Product Page best practices: Compelling and functional product pages lead to more purchases and more satisfied customers.
- Checkout Page best practices: The checkout page needs to be as credible and trustworthy as possible to ensure that sales go through. As such, the checkout page is one of the most important aspects of an eCommerce site to focus on.
- Mobile Checkout Page best practices: These days, half of the internet users shop from a mobile device. All web pages, especially checkout pages, should be just as accessible on a mobile device as on a desktop computer. Sites not optimized for mobile can lead to truncated text or cut-off images, which can disrupt the user experience.
- Landing Page best practices: Landing pages are all about personalization. Landing pages that are customized based on a visitor’s previous shopping experience or user behavior can skyrocket conversions more than any other strategy.
eCommerce Homepage best practices in 2021: Grow it like a pro
Each eCommerce site will have its own set of needs depending on what products or services it provides. However, every eCommerce site will benefit from having an exceptional homepage. Providing a clear, easy-to-use, and well-designed homepage will attract users and inspire them to engage with a website on many different levels.
Much like a well-organized, helpful, and beautiful store keeps customers coming back over time, useful and eye-catching homepages will make online customers loyal as well. And loyal customers spend much more on average than new ones. In fact, studies show that more than 50% of customers spend more on brands they are loyal to than ones they are not, creating an experience that encourages return buyers.
It’s important to note that brands do not need to implement every best practice listed here to achieve effective results. The best way to figure out what works for a retailer is to test out different eCommerce homepage strategies to see what has the greater impact on customer conversions. Testing can be done through A/B testing, asking for customer feedback, or using analytics software to track customer engagement.
The more tactics tested, the more accurate the results will be, and the happier customers will be as well. ContactPigeon, an award-winning omnichannel customer engagement solution for major brands across Europe, has helped countless eCommerce clients create highly converting strategies. Book a free 30-minute customer engagement consultation call to get started on optimizing your site today.