5 essential elements of a high-converting homepage - with examples

Bear with me for a second as I try to get a point across.

Imagine you’re a patas monkey—the fastest primate on Earth.

It’s a beautiful day on the open grasslands of Central Africa; the sun is shining, birds are chirping, you have no care in the world, except you’re starting to feel a bit nibblish and start wondering what’s on today’s menu.

Seasonal fruits and flowers are good, but your mouth starts watering thinking of that lizard you could eat instead.

C’mon, it’s like choosing between a leaf of lettuce and a nice steak.

As you take in the beautiful surroundings, you spot your meal 5 meters from you (that’s 16.4 feet).

You start approaching your target and just as you reach out to grab it, another monkey appears out of nowhere and steals your coveted lunch! 3 seconds and it’s gone!

It’s survival of the fittest. This concept doesn’t just apply to the jungle—it also applies to the internet.

Count to 3—1, 2, 3—this is the amount of time someone takes to decide whether they want to spend more time on your site and give you a chance to tell your story.

It’s that quick and you need to do your best to capture your visitor’s attention the second they “enter the door” of your website.

Nowadays, given the variety of websites and pages that show up in Google for every search, it’s a matter of seconds and choice, as there are so many options out there from which they can choose.

It’s ruthless, indeed.

Your user will base their decision to stay or go on the answer to these 3 questions:

  1. What do you offer?
  2. How will it make their life better?
  3. What do they need to do next?

And your homepage needs to reflect the answer to these questions.

People landed on your website because they’re looking for a solution to their needs and/or problems.

Our brain is trained to conserve energy, and it’s mostly on survival mode—this means it’s fixated on keeping us alive, solving problems, and eliminating threats.

That’s its main job.

Knowing that, you need to structure your homepage message in a way that helps people survive and conserve energy.

It’s all about them. The second they enter your website they start scanning your information wondering how your product or service will help them solve their pains.

Additionally, as your brain is burning hundreds and thousands of calories a day on different types of activities, at some point it will activate its mechanism to conserve energy and eliminate all things that are not contributing to its main function—helping you survive.

What’s that have to do with your homepage?

Well, if someone lands on your homepage and you don’t communicate your message very simply and clearly about how you will help them solve their problem, or you’re using a lot of jargon and they need to spend 10 minutes just deciphering what you’re trying to say, you’ll lose them.

Let’s analyze a homepage from top to bottom and go through all the elements that it needs to have in order to be conversion-oriented and at the same time user friendly for your visitors.

There are a lot of formulas for structuring your page – AIDA (Attention – Interest – Desire – Action), PAS (Problem – Agitation – Solution), or StoryBrand’s formula based on storytelling and screenwriting principles, but I just want to keep things simple and lay out a structure that I've seen work wonders independent of its niche or industry.

What homepage elements you should include?

1. The header

The headline is the first thing your visitors will read so it needs to be clear, short, and compelling.

Its main function is to answer these questions:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What do you do?
  3. What can you do for me?

When writing your headline think about your perfect customer profile.

Who are you targeting with your products/services? Be as specific as possible (e.g. instead of saying “dance classes”, say “dance classes for couples to get those butterflies back”).

Don’t write what you think is cool, instead ask yourself “What do I need to address that would be of interest to my perfect customer so that it speaks directly to what they’re experiencing?”.

It needs to be:

  • Unique – what’s your uniqueness? How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
  • Desirable – something that your prospects want and need that you can offer
  • Clear and concise – use language that everybody can understand, no inside language, no jargon
  • Specific – not vague, it needs to get your point across easily
  • Offer value – learn something, show how to do something, offer savings, etc.
  • Use compelling pictures to explain visually what your company does

The more visual your industry is, the more you’ll rely on pictures and visuals to draw people to your business, e.g. travel, food, fashion.

The other important element of the header is the CTA (call-to-action – the main action you want them to take on your page).

It needs to be clear, obvious, and provide people direction—tell them what you want them to do.

It’s usually recommended to position it on the upper right corner of your top navigation menu, and of course in the header, beneath your headline.

Try to personalize the copy as much as you can on the call to action button by specifying the exact action you’d like them to take, e.g. instead of “download now” you could say “download your free guide” or “send me my guide.”

Here are some examples of good headers that have all the features we’ve mentioned so far.

2. Products/services section

Now that you’ve let your visitors know who you are and why they should choose you, you need to reverse engineer and think of the steps you’d want the user to take to get to your desired outcome.

What do they need to know and learn in order to convince them to take the action you want them to take?

In this section of your homepage, try answering their most commonly asked questions or the questions that come to mind intuitively when thinking about your type of product/service.

There are 2 ways of doing this:

  1. Isolate or expand on the problem and then bring up the solution (your products/services).

Paint a picture of what their life looks like right now when they struggle with their problem and what is going to happen if they don’t buy your product/service.

Get them ruminating on that so that when you bring out the solution the contrast will help you move the narrative forward.

Here are some examples:

        2. List the features and benefits of your product/service or the details you’d  like them to know in order to convince them to choose your product/service.

You can best illustrate this by using:

  • Features - tell them what to expect from your product/service; don’t say why it’s important to buy it, just its attributes
  • Benefits - tell them why those features are important for them, what benefits they get by using your product or service

Usually it’s a combination of both.

Let’s look at some examples:

Other examples:

 3. Social Proof (aka you’re the expert)

In this section of your homepage you need to demonstrate competency in solving their problems.

Social proof is a term coined by well-known author Robert Cialdini in his book Influence.

It’s defined as a psychological phenomenon that occurs when people are not sure what action to take and they look to others for proof that will inform their decision.

We’re more inclined to buy products after we read other people’s reviews about their experience with the product.

We trust products that are endorsed by celebrities because they’re famous and successful and their mere association with the product is enough of a reason for you to buy it.

We trust experts’ opinions because they have more expertise than us in their field.

Your product or service will become more attractive in the eyes of your visitors when you pair it with social proof.

There are several types of social proof:

  • testimonials from people that have used your product or service
  • logos of clients—especially if they are famous brands
  • logos of publications that published your work
  • positive ratings and reviews from social media (you can take screenshots and put them on your homepage)
  • credentials—certifications from recognized institutions in your industry, professional accomplishment in your field, etc.
  • user generated content—pictures of people using your product
  • Phrases like: more than x happy customers, more than x hours saved, more than x invoices processed

Think of ways to demonstrate how others have had a positive experience with your product/service.

Here are some examples to help spark your creativity:

 4. How it works / Next Steps section

The role of this section is to convey how easy it is to work with you, use your products, or buy your products if they choose to do that.

It removes their uncertainty and resistance fearing that it’s either time consuming, or a difficult process to sign up for your product or service.

The best way to showcase this is by providing them with 3 easy steps that they need to take to start using your product or service.

Or if you have a simpler process it could just be one step.

Let’s go through some examples:

5. The lead magnet

Most people won’t convert on their first interaction with your website, so you need to give them something of value in exchange for their email address.

This way you can start nurturing your leads by sending them useful emails and start building a relationship with them until they’re ready to buy.

A lead magnet is usually displayed as a panel or pop-up with a form and a call to action button to download the freebie.

Alternatively, you can use a pop-up to ask them to subscribe to your newsletter.

I think that offering a valuable resource is way more powerful than asking them to subscribe to your newsletter, though.

Here are some examples of lead magnets:

We covered a lot, but before I leave, I want to summarize for you the most important 5 elements you should include on your homepage in order to maximize its engagement and get more sales:

  1. A clear and concise header that doesn’t need more than 3 seconds to convince your visitors that you’re the answer to their problems.
  2. A products/services section where you showcase the features and benefits of your solution and answer their most frequently asked questions.
  3. A social proof area to instill trust in your product or service.
  4. Demonstrate how easy it is for them to work with you by giving them 3 easy steps to take action.
  5. Offer your visitors something of value in exchange for their email address so that you can nurture them until they’re ready to buy.

I urge you to go and implement this layout on your homepage and watch out for any patas monkeys out there! 😊

Share your thoughts about this type of homepage structure in the comments below.

What are some ways of organizing your homepage that worked for you?

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