A Guide to Constructing a Homepage in 2014

A Guide to Constructing Your Homepage in 2014

The homepage is the first impression your visitors receive when they arrive at your website. This is why the homepage design will be the deciding factor in whether or not you can retain your visitors. 


On the average, you have about 7 seconds to convey the purpose of your website before visitors click on the Back button. This means the design of your homepage plays a critical role in attracting and retaining your target audience.  In this article, you will be provided with key points you should know that will get you started on your way to creating a homepage that gets results.

What should be included in a homepage?

In order to determine what should be included in a homepage, you must first understand the purpose behind your website. The homepage serves as the portal to the rest of the site and provides the visitor with exactly what they are looking for as soon as they arrive. By defining the purpose of your site, you are providing the visitor with the information they need to take a specific action.

For example, if the topic of your website is to sell a specific product, the majority of your visitors will not make a purchase on their first visit to your site. Therefore, you must identify a purpose that leads the visitor to the intended action which is to buy a product.

In this instance, your purpose might be to help visitors learn more about topic of your product so they will be more inclined to eventually make a purchase. This means your homepage is the gateway to establishing trust with the visitor as well as demonstrating your skills and knowledge related to the product you sell. If you try to make the sale on the homepage, it is highly likely you will discourage your visitors since it sends the message that you may be just out to make a quick buck.

It is also important to keep in mind that you will have new visitors as well as returning visitors. The homepage should provide a balance of components that get the new visitor interested in the content enough to want to return and content that reminds repeat visitors to return.

New Visitors

New visitors to your site are looking for information not only on the topic of your product but also information that will help them gauge your expertise and trustworthiness. Your content should be organized in a way that demonstrates these traits such as a video that establishes an immediate relationship by providing face-to-face contact.  You could also give away free high quality information in exchange for an email address. This helps the person to get to know you and your expertise by receiving valuable information in an email.

Returning Visitors

For repeat visitors, you should provide resources that consistently remind them to return to your site. This could be something as simple as a news feed or forum community where they feel a part of something.You may be able to go as far as setting up a membership portion of the site with a free trial or a subscription-based newsletter. buy online

High quality content geared toward new and returning visitors, a clear statement of purpose, and a design that makes it easy to find your way around, is the key to catching the attention of new visitors. It is also an effective way to increase the number of returning visitors who will eventually make a purchase.

Additionally, your homepage should be capable of loading quickly to avoid visitor frustration. This means a simple design with small graphics will help your page to load faster and prevent your visitors from leaving.  You can also opt to use CSS image sprites which help to group the page images together. This reduces the number of requests the page requires to effectively render your homepage.

Where should the navigation feature be placed on the homepage and how should it be structured?

The navigation for your website is the foundation that will determine whether or not your visitors will be able to easily find their way around. The navigation should be designed in a way that clearly organizes and displays the hierarchy of web pages to the visitor. It should also be consistent throughout the pages of your site so as to avoid confusion, yet visually appealing to provide a pleasant browsing experience.

In terms of where the navigation should be placed on the homepage can be the preference of the website owner. Typically the navigation bar is across the top of the page or on the left or right hand sides.  However, newer trends in website design add an air of creativity to navigation design. The main thing to remember is to maintain consistency on each page of the site regardless of where you place the navigation. Your visitors just want to be able to easily navigate your site and expect it to be user-friendly.

Current trends in navigation design involve 3-D navigation with JavaScript which provides an interactive experience without being too over the top.  Other designs provide the navigation icon with an explanation of the content written out in a summary paragraph under the icon. The paragraph typically contains keywords that your visitors use to find your website.

How should a website be structured in order to capture your target audience, increase conversions and encourage returning visitors?

To capture your target audience, you must identify and prioritize the content and elements that are the most important for communicating the purpose of your site.  Once identification is complete, prioritize each one in order and in the form of a list. Some of the elements might include featured content, RSS feed, or opt-in list.

The priority list in order of importance will depend upon what you plan to achieve with your site. However, with this information visually in front of you, you can come up with a design that draws the visitor’s attention to the most important aspects of the site. You can accomplish this by organizing the content so it is viewed by the visitor in the correct sequence.

Use a Heat Map to Enhance the Purpose

Heat maps are a useful tool for discovering what parts of your homepage are performing and which portions are in need of improvement. A heat map is a colored diagram that displays the process your website visitors use to view the content on your web page. The concept comes from pupil tracking devices used during market research to reveal consumer eye movement when they are viewing a promotion. Heat maps display the areas of your homepage that are viewed the most by your visitors.

Heat maps display different colors to show the most frequently visited parts of a homepage. For example, if you are using the color red and yellow, the heat map will indicate where 85 to 100 percent of the activity is by outlining it in red so you can decide how to maximize conversion rates. The color yellow may show you where 65 to 70 percent of visitor activity is located.

There is a tool in Google Analytics known as Site Overlay that offers similar functions to a heat map. Or, you can opt to use an open source heat map generator such as ClickHeat. ClickHeat provides you with an entire heat map package that can be uploaded to the host server for your website.

Additional Ways to Draw Attention to Content

In addition to the general layout you choose for the homepage design, there are a few ways you can draw the visitor’s attention to important elements and content.

  • Implement more white space around the content or the element to isolate it and make it stand out.
  • Highlight various features in order of importance.
  • Increase the contrast of important elements so they stand out from surrounding components.
  • Increase the size and change the color of important features such as a Subscribe button or other feature where you want to visitor to take a specific action.
  • Use graphics that have a purpose and lead the visitor’s eyes to an important element, piece of content.

Graphics can also allude to the location of an organization; this should be intentional if your service is regional. The Our IT Dept. Services homepage is a great example of regional optimisation well executed. Note the slider images and the header tags.

Remember to Include the Basic Components Visitors Expect

As you browse the Internet, you have probably noticed that most websites contain basic but important elements which visitors expect to find. Since these are common elements, creative positioning will make your site stand out from the others in the eyes of the visitor. Some of the common elements of a homepage include:

  • A feature for searching your site.
  • Your company logo.
  • Social media widgets.
  • RSS Feed.
  • Navigation Menu.
  • About your company.
  • Contact information.

Additionally, the homepage layout should be simple and each element should have a purpose in mind. If the page is cluttered with elements that do not seem to have a purpose, this will only confuse the visitor and cause them to feel overwhelmed enough to click the Back button and move on.

What colors should be used and what ones should be avoided on your homepage?

The colors on your website should be presented in the form of a theme such as those used on your logo or other type of company representation. You should avoid using too many colors at all costs since it results in visitor distraction and makes your site look disorganized. website colors

As a rule of thumb, the homepage should use no more than two primary colors with a third color used sparingly in the design. The color theme you choose should remain consistent throughout the site and be simple to make viewing the pages easier on the eye.

The color theme should also connect with your visitors and relate well to the purpose of the site. For example, you typically would not use loud colors such as fluorescent orange for a site where you are trying to communicate a business-like image. Although contrast is important, it should not be too over the top. Additionally, the text should either be dark with a light background or light with a darker background. However, you want to avoid excessive contrast such as yellow text on a black background since it is very hard on the eyes. This brings us to the subject of text and font styles.

What about text and font styles?

About ten years ago, small fonts were considered to be trendy however, it wasn’t very practical and rather difficult to read. As a general rule, you should never go below 11pt with 14pt being the ideal font size for paragraphs and other text.

It is also important to keep in mind that some browsers do not support specific font types. So if you are thinking of using a fancy font type, it is more important to think in terms of practicality and readability. The primary font styles that are supported across many different browsers include but are not limited to Verdana, Serif, Times New Roman, and Comic Sans.

Also, consider accessibility and health in addition to health and safety. The height of the paragraph lines is also important to prevent eyestrain and make your content easier to read. This is the spacing between each line in a paragraph. If the lines are too close together, this provides an unpleasant reading experience. When the lines are spaced further apart, this makes the content more reader-friendly.

Positioning. Where should your headers appear? What should be above the fold? How long should your website be?

The website header is a critical part of making a good impression on the visitor so it is important to get it right the first time. There are a variety of different types of header designs which help you achieve different purposes. The type of header you choose will depend upon your site’s purpose.

In general, a very large header placed at the top of the page could waste valuable space above the fold unless you use the header space wisely. For example, if you simply include your company name and logo, you are wasting valuable real estate where you could be placing the most important content above the fold. On the other hand, if the header includes the navigation bar, valuable content, and perhaps an opt-in section, then you are making better use of the space. The whole idea is to create a purpose for every element you place on the page and this includes the header at the top.

In terms of page length, your page should typically be no less than 500-600 words. In order for the content to be valuable to your visitors and the search engine bots that visit your page for indexing, this is a good rule of thumb to follow. The content should be filled with valuable information and totally void of “fluff” or unnecessary content just to fill the page.

What is currently trending online?

There are varieties of different approaches that are currently trending online. A lot of them are due to the increased use of mobile and tablet devices.


Videos have been gradually been replacing text to the point where the search engines recognize them for indexing on the search engine results pages (SERP).  Most people would rather watch something than read about it. Plus, videos provide an easier way to explain or demonstrate a concept related to the topic of your business. They are also easy to share with others which makes getting your message out a lot easier.

Simple and Straightforward Content

You have heard the old adage, “Less is more.”  This rings true when it comes to providing content. Most people that browse the Internet are scanners which means they scan the content to find the parts that interest them. For this reason, the content should be kept simple with lots of subtitles and bullet points that allow the reader to easily find the content they want to read.

Mobile Designs

mobile designBecause of the increased use of mobile devices and touchscreen functionality, websites are no longer being designed solely with the desktop or laptop PC in mind.  Mobile design is now the trend with mobile-friendly features that are integrated with social media, long scrolling websites, email subscriptions, and fast loading websites delivered through responsive templates that resize accordingly deepening on the device being used. See this wiki page for more information.

Flat Design is current.

When Apple released the iOS 7 operating system, this launched the popularity of flat web design. This type of design is simple and typographical and is expected to be in the forefront during 2014. It is also a very user-friendly design that is preferred by many web surfers as well.

Hopefully, this information will provide you with a solid foundation to start designing your own homepage. And, remember that designing an effective homepage requires attention to detail and consistency when taking into account your site’s purpose and long term goals.

How is your homepage looking today? Do you think you need to make any changes to your homepage?

Top Image Image courtesy of arztsamui / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Lisa loves helping others to thrive online through Content Marketing with Social Media, Blogging and SEO. What good is knowledge if you cannot share it with others? She has 20+ years experience in marketing/advertising with 6 years experience in content marketing, social media, blogging and SEO. Check out her latest eBook "Learn to Tweet and Thrive on Twitter" now on Amazon.

39 comments On A Guide to Constructing a Homepage in 2014

  • Hi Devya, welcome to Inspire to Thrive. I did glance at your blog and I think you could make the text and images bigger on your blog. I felt they were too small to read and images would have more impact if a little bigger.
    Lisa recently posted..How To Avoid Getting The Mute on TwitterMy Profile

  • Hey Lisa,
    very important post for all the bloggers. Homepage is very important part of blog and helps to attract more readers to our blog. Font styles, colors are very important factors of it. This post really gonna help all of us. Thanks for sharing this post with us.
    Sudipto recently posted..Flappy Bird FOR PC / Computer / WINDOWS 7/8, MAC AndroidMy Profile

  • Hii Lisa, the things you mentioned here are all important. I always try to keep the bounce rate as low as possible while designing the home page. Also the navigation part is more important. Right?

  • When it comes to homepage design two words readily comes to mind – attract and retain. Every home page should fulfill these functions.

    It is the front desk of the business, hence the need for it to appeal and retain cannot be overemphasized.

    The ideas shared here are undoubtedly important. Many bloggers and Internet marketers should see this guide as helpful to get the attention of the visitor and improve conversion rate.

    A very nice share I must remark!

    In the content syndication and social bookmarking website kingged.com, the above comment has been shared where this post was shared for Internet marketers.

    Sunday- kingged.com contributor

    Sunday recently posted..Why You Should Immediately Stop Your Facebook Page Like CampaignsMy Profile

  • You must be firm with your target before building a homepage. It is your channel on what things to bring into play, what color to pick and what design you need, to make it short, understand the purpose behind your website.

    An easy to navigate website can grow more clicks and can make a visitor stay long, so never forget to include the basic components your visitors will expect.

    I found this post shared on Kingged.com, the Internet marketing social site, and I “kingged” it and left this comment.
    metz recently posted..Best smartphones to buy based on performance and ratingMy Profile

  • Hi Lisa,

    That’s certainly a really complete post about the “how to” of a home page.

    The homepage is everything and if not done right will will certainly lose sales and even opportunities to make people want to come back.

    There’s so much to take into consideration.

    You’ve done a great job with that one!
    Sylviane Nuccio recently posted..How You Can Generate Organic Traffic Using ScribdMy Profile

    • Thanks Sylviane, it is as is landing pages too. There sure is a lot to think about when planning or changing a homepage up. Some homepages are not as important as a landing page, it depends what action you want readers to take when they land on your site. Thanks for coming by and for your input Sylviane. Have a great rest of your week!
      Lisa recently posted..An Armchair Blog Detective’s Website ToolkitMy Profile

  • Hello Ms. Lisa
    I hope you are well.

    I love love love this article, because I need everything you wrote about.

    Like many others have mentioned, I have been thinking about changing so much. I did try to make some changes in the menu, but it did not work… still learning.

    Is there a difference between a blog and a websie? I have a business which is Coaching To Succeed LLC and I do provide services…. I have some ideas, but I don’t know if they are appropriate.

    My picture and the header and the menu are things on my mind.

    Thank you Lisa

    Gladys posted ..Your Personal Development Portfolio
    Gladys recently posted..Your Personal Development PortfolioMy Profile

  • Great work Lisa,

    Wasn’t aware of ClickHeat. I think it’s an amazing tool to know what your visitors are doing on your webpages and you can plan your strategy to increase the engagement and ultimately improve the outcome.
    Aahna recently posted..Inviya Core Spun Yarn ManufacturerMy Profile

  • Hi Lisa,

    I was trying to redesign my Share Juice pro website with a few new things and I found it quite hard to do because first I am not a designer and second there are so many things that need to be done ( as outlined in your post).

    I have given that up for now and concentrate on creating a good video ( which you have mentioned ) to help customers quickly understand what the site is all about.

    I think the post above the really exhaustive and I would have to read it many times when I restart my site. Right now I have taken a few ideas and hopefully I am able to replicate them :).
    Ashvini recently posted..Four ways to improve customer serviceMy Profile

  • Hi Lisa,

    Perfect timing as I am in the process of re-designing my blog. I’m currently looking for new templates that appeal to me and would attract my audience and now you’ve given me the perfect things I need to look at and adjust accordingly for my new homepage. I was just thinking about what I needed to put on my home page yesterday, no lie! I guess ‘wish and you shall receive uh?’

    Anyway, great tips that I will be looking at each step of the way as I design my new home page. Thanks so much.
    Barbara Charles recently posted..Six Ideas to Infuse A Call to Action in Your Next PostMy Profile

  • Hello Lisa,

    This is a well written post that I believe every Internet marketer ought to read and properly digest. For sometime now, I have consistently argued with my offline buddies that only trust and expertise are the two singularly important ‘weapons’ on the Internet and the life of earning online. Somehow, you have reinforced that belief in me.

    Your esposition of color and mobile rendering was also very brilliant!

    Please, do have a very great day – you deserve it!

    Akaahan Terungwa recently posted..7 TIPS TO MAKE SURE YOUR GENUINE COMMENTS NEVER LAND IN SPAM AGAIN!My Profile

  • Lisa,
    You have some very interesting facts. One thing I’m going to have to change is my font. I am using size 14 but I’m using Helvetica. Another thing, I recently changed my focus from selling a product to selling a service. My home page is my current blog, however I created a start here page – which talks about my services. Do you think that’s appropriate? Thanks, Lisa
    Lisa Magoulas recently posted..Dairy Free CheesecakeMy Profile

  • Hi Lisa,

    Comprehensive! 🙂 This depicts you have been researching a lot about this topic and if I’m right, I can recall once you written a post about constructing a homepage too. If you could attach an image of heat map, then it would have been great too.

    Now, lot of detailed information and tips here. Well, I can almost agree with many factors you have mentioned in the post and yet I can convey different views when it comes to some factors Lisa 🙂 Well, from the perspective of practice.

    Actually, now we don’t need to spend a lot of time on speeding up a website. Isn’t it? If we can afford CDN and such premium tools 🙂

    You know, most businesses do. Unlike bloggers, they don’t spend time scaling images and reorganizing CSS, but using powerful hosting and premium performance tools. When it comes to businesses, I think it’s the best way ’cause trying to reorganize core objects, merely to achieve performance, can be risky and waste of time in long-term.

    You nailed when talking about new and returning visitors. I think navigation is the primary element we need to make sure working, ’cause else it prevents visitors from discovering. As I experienced, many visitors just take the navigation links rather than searching the site which could have been much easier 🙂 Interesting behaviors.

    About loading time, I think it’s gonna be an excluding factor as soon as the Internet speed gonna take care of it by its own, Lisa 🙂 With the arrival of 4G here, a site which took 17 seconds with my connection, could load completely within 5 seconds. Isn’t it amazing? Yet we have to pay attention on it though. In future, I guess no one will be worried about loading time anymore. That’d be awesome 😉

    I guess color selection has been kinda obsession lately 🙂 It kills me when I see sites with mismatching backgrounds though. But I have to respect their choices. However, some folks just start to use recommended colors for buttons and images, and then it dissolves the professionalism of the theme. Glad you mentioned about colors and font styles, as they are being overlooked by some folks, Lisa 🙂

    BTW now we can fancy fonts while rendering on all browsers too. However it can slow down the site little bit with initial loading 🙂

    You have a lovely weekend with your family Lisa 🙂 Hope everyone doing fine!

    Mayura recently posted..How to Add YouTube Subscribe Button to Your WebsiteMy Profile

    • Hi Mayura, good memory – that was more about a blog having a front page as many did not at that time. That was years okay my friend 🙂 Thanks on the CDN by the way too. You are the one that got me hooked up for that one. That’s great Mayura going from 17 to 5 seconds for loading times with 4G. So glad you have some speed now, you must LOVE it! Oh yes, some screaming backgrounds almost give me a headache and I click off as soon as I start to feel the dizziness from them. Squinting is not a good thing either when trying to read online. Thanks for your input on this Mayura and I hope you are having a great weekend that is almost over there I’m sure. I did get to spend time with my mom yesterday – she’s hanging in. I have more painting to do today and then back there. Hope you and yours are well too!
      Lisa recently posted..The New Klout – How Klout Has Become a Content Creation Platform My Profile

  • This is right on time Lisa 😉 Looks like you saw me working in my analytics accounts before writing this post

    I was actually considering redoing my home page because it’s the landing page with the highest number of visits since my new blog was created so not giving it considerable amount of attention will be like wasting. I have gathered some interesting tips from this post so I’ll be working on transforming my home page

    Thanks for the very timely post
    Enstine Muki recently posted..Hidden Blog Commenting Trick For Huge Traffic & Networking!My Profile

  • WOW well written post lisa. Yes home page matters a lot for any website and it should be simple but yet attractive . And the tool you have menton here for undrstanding the click patter ie click map is really awsome this will also help in ads placement.
    Thanks for sharing such a nice information
    Uday Ghulaxe recently posted..WordPress Vs Joomla. Which CMS should you choose?My Profile

  • Great tips Lisa.

    I definitely have to work on my home page. I’m actually thinking about making a drastic move this month and it might include a new theme. In the meantime I’ve put this in my pocket for a reference I as work on my new and sudden project :).

    I love a website with colors. I’m really not bothered by ads because they’re trying to make money but when it’s loaded with them it’s a little tough to focus on the content.

    And oh yes font size is important. There are some sites I have to squint at. Give me a 12 size font any day LOL.

    Thanks for sharing these tips Lisa! I hope you had a great Friday! It’s the weekend, we can relax now, right :).
    Corina Ramos recently posted..Infographic: #Freelance Facts & Figures: Where It Is Now & Where It’s GoingMy Profile

    • Hi Corina, Interesting you are thinking about that. I’ve made some minor changes but not really noticable ones. More for speed and protection of the site – done by Mayura. I love colors too but ads can be a pain especially if they are at the top of a post. I do not like squinting to read a post – that can turn me away quickly. Thanks for your input Corina and have yourself a good weekend, it’s finally here!
      Lisa recently posted..A Guide to Constructing a Homepage in 2014My Profile

  • Hi Lisa,

    Wow! That’s one of the longest posts I’ve read on your blog, and detailed to perfection as well – welcome to my world 😉

    You wrote about a very important topic because those of us who are into sales or have something to sell, especially a product or their services, do need a Homepage. I still need to make mine, though I’m pretty happy with the main page I have that gives a whole picture of what all a person would like to choose to read.

    Yes, the color combination, font size, and all other details you mentioned are vital too, and if done well can truly make people stop and read through your blog. Heat Map is something new I learnt today and would surely be checking them out.

    Thanks for sharing. .Have a nice weekend 🙂
    Harleena Singh recently posted..Share Your Relationship Problems on Aha!NOWMy Profile

    • Thanks Harleena, yes our homepages and landing pages can sure make a difference on people staying on your site longer and purchasing if you are selling something. You redo looks awesome Harleena. You are doing lots of new things, congrats. Thanks for coming by and have a great weekend.

    • Hi Harleena,

      Your world is quite a great world and you must agree that Lisa is doing great with the 1000+ lengths . Long posts definitely have their uses when deployed properly!

      Your homepage looks great. If I were in your shoes, I woudn’t bother changing it. But who knows? You may have a greater plan in mind.

      Do have a very great day!

      Akaahan Terungwa recently posted..7 TIPS TO MAKE SURE YOUR GENUINE COMMENTS NEVER LAND IN SPAM AGAIN!My Profile

      • Hey Terungwa!

        Thanks for saying that….and yes, my loooong posts are at least acceptable by Google now as they like the 2000+ post lengths, so that makes me pretty happy 🙂

        No, no plans of changing anything as of now, I like it the way it is too, but if someone has something to sell or offer, perhaps they have to make a better and more apt a page.

        Thanks for your kind words. Have a nice week 🙂
        Harleena Singh recently posted..Share Your Relationship Problems on Aha!NOWMy Profile

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