Anatomy of a Home Page
Critical Components That Draw in Users
By Gabrielle Mosquera
Here's a ratio: Home page is to Web site as storefront is to retail and cover is to catalog. In short, it's the first impression prospects have of your company, and a critical one at that.
In fact, a home page has to work even harder than a retail storefront or print cover because it must facilitate transactions further on in the site, says Bridget Fahrland, executive creative director at e-business consultancy Fry Multimedia.
"It can't just be about catching the eye. Something there has to get [customers] to go deeper," she explains.
Though much of home page design depends on each cataloger's company size, product offerings and target audience, there are a few things that every home page should have—and a few that it shouldn't.
Brand Consistency: First and Foremost
Of all the messages a home page must communicate, brand may be the most important. "There are two types of people who come to your home page: people who know your brand and people who don't," asserts Fahrland.
Beyond communicating to users that they've reached the right place, a clear brand message helps establish their trust in the site itself. Fahrland notes this is particularly important for small catalogers with lesser-known brands—they need to immediately convince users that the site, and by extension the company, is a reliable one.
To establish this, first ensure that your logo is prominently (though not overwhelmingly) displayed, and that the colors used align with those in your print catalog.
But don't stop at your logo. Carry the message through in the language, tone and graphics style as well, says Ken Burke, founder and CEO of e-consultancy Multimedia Live. For example, lifestyle and/or product shots speak volumes for your brand message—they communicate whether or not your catalog concentrates on the merchandise itself or the way of life associated with it.