If you landed on this page, I’m going to assume that you’re worried that your company’s home page might be pushing the limits of what it should contain. I’m going to mark “I think I may have a problem” as red flag number one, but what does a “cluttered” home page really look like?

Clutter can be defined in a number of ways, but when it comes to websites, it leads to a general lack of focus – or clear call to action – and degraded performance (which we’ll get into in future article). Have you ever stumbled across a website for a product or service and wondered what your next move is? When you build a website, you want to be clear about the next step that you want a potential customer to make. This isn’t forcing their hand or being deceitful, but rather taking the guess work out of what the next step in the process is. People are drawn to step-by-step plans because they’re easy and make sense. When your home page lacks direction, confusion takes over and customers run for the hills.

*By that definition, a site without any call to action at all would also constitute as cluttered, but you’re a smart person.. you know I mean too many “next steps”, right?

Why should I care?

The web surfer in me wants clear focus and direction on a website while the web developer in me is screaming about performance and SEO! The reality is that both matter equally. While performant (read: faster) sites rank higher at search engines (<–that article is from 7 years ago already!) and, therefore, attract more traffic, that traffic is useless if the site is unusable.

When you have a “cluttered” home page (or any page in your website, for that matter), visitors to your site suffer from a high cognitive load and are for less likely to stay, let alone return.

How did my website get this way?

Before we can get to a remedy, let’s back up and diagnose the situation. The home page feels cluttered, but how did it get that way? The good news is that this is (usually) a by-product of good intentions!

When you (or your agency) first designed your new, shiny home page, it probably looked pretty stellar. It was probably clean and clear, with direct calls to action. It probably gave your site visitors a straightforward idea of what your company is all about and how they should proceed to give you money (aka, make a purchase). But over time, something starts to happen.

Over time, you start to offer more products. Or maybe you want to run some specials for a quick burst of sales? You hire more staff and want to show them off or even found a cause you could get behind that you want to boast and promote. Whatever the case, more and more things became important to you and your business, but the other stuff doesn’t become less important, right?

If you have kids (or ever were a kid), you know what this looks like. At first, you just have a few Legos and that’s manageable. But as birthdays and Christmases pass, you start to accumulate Barbies and Ninja Turtles and Paw Patrol puppies (can you tell I have little kids?), but you don’t want to give anything up. Eventually, your bedroom gets to a point where something has to go – too much has been added without removing anything.

What can I do about it?

The good news is that the solution is simple: remove something from your home page that isn’t as important as the rest. (Notice I said it was simple, not easy!)

While “the fold” on the web is a myth, there is some truth to the fact that folks will rarely scroll all the way down to the bottom of a long page on the web – with a few exceptions. Now, this is important: that does not mean that you should get as much content high up on the page as possible! That’s probably how you got here in the first place.

Here are some things you can do to try to de-clutter:

  • That banner of rotating header images – the carousel? Cut it down to 3 or 4 (max!) It’s been shamed and deemed ineffective anyway.
  • Choose (at most) 3 things to call attention to from the home page. Move the rest of your CTAs (calls to action) to deeper – and more relevant – pages in your site.
  • Keep your code and content DRY (don’t repeat yourself)
  • Remember that your home page is a first impression and portal to the rest of your site. You don’t need to fit everything that’s important to your business on one page! So go ahead and remove that employee spotlight, bullet list of services, location map, and weekly specials popup off the main landing page – unless one of those is mission-critical to your business (looking at your map on a restaurant home page).

If your site is a few years old, there’s always the option to redesign as well, but you don’t necessarily have to go there (unless it’s also looking dated.. then pull the trigger on a refresh!). As with most things, prevention is easier then repair, so remember to clear out some of the clutter as you add new content to stay lean.

Of course, if you need help or want an expert opinion on what state your home page (or website) is in, give us a shout! We’d love to talk to you about starting with a Brand Audit so we can assess your site, brand, and audience before you take further action.

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