7 Things that Multi-Million Dollar Websites Do on their Homepage that You Don't

7 Things that Multi-Million Dollar Websites Do on their Homepage that You Don’t

This past week I’ve had the flu. That mean a lot of time spent on the couch watching TV & movies. It also got me thinking: What can the owner of a small business website learn from 3 large, successful companies? What? You don’t think about web development when you’re sick???

Well, I do. If we look at companies where the website homepage is an important – if not the most important way – they get customers, what would we learn? In this article I’ll describe what 7 lessons we can take from the big guys to improve our homepages and websites.

The Websites

For this exercise, I choose NetFlix, TiVo, and LifeLock. Certainly each of these companies fit the bill. Here are what their sites look like:


Lifelock Website DesignTivo Website DesignNetFlix Website Design

Website Criteria

First, let me talk a little about the criteria I used to choose these websites to analyze. Yes, these websites were identified a fever-induced haze but I did want to focus on service companies. Selling physical goods is worthy of its own study so no Amazon or eBay here. Here I wanted to focus on websites where companies who are looking to earn their keep by providing services because that’s what most small business websites should be designed to do. If you’re a landscaper, a personal trainer, a contractor, a web designer, a CPA, you provide a service. If you have a website for your small business, your home page is your best chance for a wonderful first impression. In some cases it may also be your only chance for a first impression! So let’s make the most of it!

Additionally, I wanted to choose companies that had multiple services. No one-trick ponies here. Again, this is what businesses across America do. You don’t only sell one service, you likely sell multiple related services. You may sell maintenance agreements on the original contract or offer related items. You probably want return business as well. And like all companies, you may have to educate your prospect on what exactly it is you do, why it’s better than the other guy, and why these other services are important, too!

Since it seems that every business has to serve multiple masters in terms of offerings, I steered away from specific website landing pages. Landing page web development is also worthy of its own examination and would cloud this issue.

For the purposes of this article let’s define landing pages as those long-hand copy pages filled with testimonials and emotional triggers where marketers use a laser-like focus to get website visitors to convert to a sale. This isn’t to say that you couldn’t make your website home page into such a landing page, just that many businesses choose to follow a hub and spoke model where the home page distributes visitors to other services.

Lesson 1: Put your Best Content at the Top

The screen captures shown represent what I see above the fold – the portion of their home pages that display on my monitor without scrolling down. Each of these websites are backed by sufficiently-talented marketing analytics teams and their best shot at converting me to a paying customer is top, front, and center. They know that the visitor doesn’t want to think and examine the entire page for what they are looking for. They know they only have a limited time to grab my attention and get the sale. You should know this, too. Put your best, most compelling foot forward on the top portion of your home page.

Lesson 2: Get Your Viewers to Imagine Themselves Using Your Service

Visualization is an important marketing technique. No matter what you are selling, you are ultimately selling to people. See how in this image there is a picture of a happy family watching NetFlix? They are gathered together and smiling. This subtly invokes the imagination of the viewer. Part of their target audience will be thinking about gathering together as a loving family in front of the TV.

Craft an image of your viewers using your service.

Craft an image of your viewers using your service.

BTW, This is also why testimonials are so effective!

Lesson 3: Show Them What They Are Getting

Similar to the previous lesson, you must show users what they are getting for going with your service. A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when describing your service. If you are a landscaper, you are selling a beautiful lawn – so show it! If you are a home theater installer, show the finished product. If you are selling beautifully restored antique furniture, show it in a home setting. When you are constrained with space, as you are on your home page, try a picture of what you are offering to get the point across concisely.

Show a viewer a picture of what they are getting on your home page.

Show a viewer a picture of what they are getting on your home page.

Lesson 4: Let Your Users Choose Their Own Adventure

Remember those children’s books where you were the main character and at certain decision points you could choose where you wanted the narrative to go? They went a little like this: “You hear a knocking, a rap-tap-tapping on the supposedly-abandoned cellar door. To open the door, turn to page 29. To run like hell, turn to page 62..”

Your home page should make effective use of in-page navigation to let the user select what service they are especially interested in.

Design your website home page to allow users to find out about more services.

Design your website home page to allow users to find out about more services.

Lesson 5: Use Top Level Navigation to Educate & Offer Contact Information

No matter what your company does, people will have questions. They’ll want to know how your company works, or learn more about the services you provide, the products you use, the philosophy that drives your business. They’ll want to know how to contact you. It’s impossible to comprehensively list all of your information on the small piece of real estate that is your home page. That’s why we use navigation links. Make them conspicuous and let the viewer decide where to go next.

Navigation is important to your website design.

Navigation is important to your website design.

Lesson 6: Capture Their Contact Information

People don’t just randomly type words into a browser just to see what comes up. When viewers arrive at your home page it is because your other marketing efforts got them there. Don’t waste it! Get to know who has come by your website and ask for their contact information if they are interested in learning more. This way, instead of waiting for the phone to ring, you can proactively cultivate a list of people interested in your service.

Get your website visitor's contact information.

Get your website visitor's contact information.

Lesson 7: Ask for the Sale!

It’s amazing how many businesses make an investment in a website, put the time, effort, and resources into getting one developed, but never ask their visitors for the sale! It’s OK to ask for a sale. Everyone knows you are a business. If you’ve done a good job developing your website experience, your visitors will be ready to hear about what you are offering. So offer it!

Ask for the Sale

Ask for the Sale

 

These were seven lessons that I noticed immediately from this analysis. What did you notice? What have you tried on your home page and how did it work out? What have you done in the limited real estate available? Tell us in the notes below.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lincoln February 8, 2012 at 10:00 am

Nice analysis! This is especially important because if you do not hand-hold visitors through the entire experience (in addition, tailoring the user experience for a specific type of visitor,_ then you increase the chances that someone will abandon your site or product.

This is even true after you have gained their contact information, or secured a sale, as described by this article about the “court-marry approach”.

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Charlotte Web Development February 8, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Your ‘Court vs Marry’ article is a great resource and I encourage everyone to read it!

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