Everyone always talks about creating web sites, make them unique, add sizzle, and make them informative. Are you totally confused? What is the main purpose of a web site? And what makes or breaks your web site? The answer lies within your home page. People have very little time. When they are searching for something, they want to find the answer quickly and efficiently. If your home page (index page) is set up correctly, you will attract new clients. If not, you may be wasting your time and your money. Keep these 10 tips in mind when evaluating your home page.

1. Your home page should be very simplistic, and not contain exclusive flash programming or multiple frames. A majority of the search engines use your home page for ranking. They look to see what key words exist within this page. If it exclusively flash, it will not pick up any key words. Also, if your home site is to sophisticated for your potential clients’ browser, they may elect to move on to another site. If they can’t get to an initial page to begin making an assessment of its content, they will not stay.

2. Your home page should be created with soothing colors. Check several browsers to view the colors, as colors can change. It’s hard enough reading from a computer without adding wild splashes of color all over the pages.

3. Your home page should predominately use one font in one size – do not use several as it confuses the reader. Again, the key is to soothe a visitor, and make them want to stay. Using more than one font throughout the key text can be looked at as amateurish.

4. Your home page should contain words specifically geared towards your industry. You are targeting a certain market – write the text in your home page to clearly market to that audience. See yourself in your clients eye – what are they looking for? What do they say when they call you? If you consistently here from potential clients “I’m looking for someone who can perform these tasks”, put those tasks on your home page! Now you are marketing towards the specific needs of your clients!

5. Your home page should answer questions your client may have. What are the benefits that make your company unique? Why do people choose you over your competition? What clients are you trying to attract? If you condense the answers to these questions down into one or two sentences, you will come up with your core benefits. List these on your home page, and your clients will love you for answering their questions.

6. Your home page should provide all information needed to contact you. I have seen so many complex pages forget one simple thing – they never list their contact information. By providing this information on your home page (actually, this should be on every page) you will be providing everything the customer needs on one page. If they print this page, they will always remember how well your site was put together, and how to contact you. Don’t forget company names, points of contact, phone numbers, email addresses, URL, and street addresses.

7. Your home page should have a sign-up program to provide potential clients with free tips, newsletters, information, etc. You can’t market to a client if you aren’t in touch with them. By offering a free program, and having it predominately displayed throughout your site, you will entice people to give you their information. Just an email is all you need. They enjoy what you are offering or they wouldn’t have signed up. They are easier to market to than spamming the general public.

8. Your home page should be able to print on one sheet of paper. If the client likes what they see and are doing research, they may print out the first page as reference. If all of the information fits cleanly on a page, they will keep it. If it doesn’t, they won’t! You should continually be aware of the margins, the width and the length of your home page.

9. Your home page should establish the navigation that will be used throughout your site. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing a button on the first page, and not being able to get back to it. Navigation is so important to establish professionalism.

10. Your home page should reflect your company’s philosophy. If you are a casual company, have fun with what you are doing, and like to create cutting edge products and services for your clients, reflect that attitude within your web site, starting with your home page. A great example is the differences between the sites Motley Fool and Wall Street Journal. Both are geared towards business, but they have a very different feel. One has fun with business information, and one is very stoic. Both appeal towards different people. But they both carry a theme throughout the site according to their philosophy.
www.fool.com vs www.wsj.com

Lori Osterberg has been marketing online since 1995. Her popular online newsletter is read weekly by small business owners from around the world. To subscribe visit http://www.VisionOfSuccess.com