Is this the website of a cupcake bakery, culinary educator or caterer, or all of these? I read and reread the home page, looking for their services. Words like “organic” and “innovative” are there. The graphics are colorful and impressive. But I do not see a sentence that tells me what business they are in.
In his excellent book Don’t Make Me Think: a Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Steve Krug gives four questions your home page must answer:
1. What is this? In the case above, language about handling desserts in novel ways does not help me figure out what the site is about. Probably the word “caterer” sounds deadly dull to them, but that word helps me categorize the site correctly.
2. What do they have here? Will I find product options, class offerings, recipes, cooking links, news on how they frost cupcakes, a way to contact them? Make your main content clear.
3. What can I do here? Can I book them to handle desserts for my daughter’s engagement party? Can I register online for cupcake baking classes? Can I get updates by email of new flavors and the addition of mini-muffins? What are the most important actions you want me, the site visitor, to take on your home page? Make those actions real obvious with typeface, layout and graphics.
4. Why should I be here – and not somewhere else? Is this the only place in Chicago I can learn to bake healthy cupcakes? What’s the niche? Krug cautions that your home page must unambiguously convey your business:
“If it’s not clear to me what I’m looking at in the first few seconds, interpreting everything else on the page is harder, and the chances are greater that I’ll misinterpret something and get frustrated.”
When I wrote an article on the above baker-educator-chef, I had to call and ask about their services. You don’t want your prospects to work that hard. If I visit the home page on your website today, will I find words I understand about your product or service? Will I grasp your niche?
If you’re inspired to put your home page to the four-question test, have someone outside your organization answer those questions about your page. Then please come back and let me know what you learned in a comment.