The fundamental building block of any website is that every page on your site should have a purpose. By thinking about each page’s purpose it becomes much easier to build content that works for your visitors.
Some pages might be designed to maximise your conversion rate, these high-intent pages should have a singular focus, whilst your homepage serves as a meeting point for all the information on your site.
Sometimes we have complete control over where visitors arrive on our site – this is true of pretty much all paid media campaigns and lots of owned/earned media campaigns like email and organic social media posts. When considering where to send visitors to your site, you first want to understand what specific action you would like them to take. This action might not always take the form of a sale or a lead but it might be a softer metric like engaging them in a particular piece of content to help nudge them along the decision making journey.
Every visitor to your site is looking for an answer to a problem, whether it be as broad as “what is this site about?” or as specific as “how do I donate to this cause?”
So How Can I Figure Out What People Are Looking for?
There are a few ways to start unearthing user-insights like this:
- In-person studies – you can run in-person eye tracking studies in a lab environment and record user feedback and actions directly. This method is expensive and not something that we’d recommend jumping straight into. Although it might be something that you can replicate to some extent through personal one-on-one conversations with existing customers.
- Use existing analytics data – we love data here at Digital Ninjas, and your existing Google Analytics account should be full of it. Whether it’s understanding popular arrival points, user-flows (how people move through content) or content with high/low engagement metrics (remember some of this is about understanding what users do not want).
- Search data – both onsite and from your existing search engine marketing (SEM) activity. You can also use keyword research tools like SEMRush to expand your understanding of the type of content that users are looking for (we used to recommend the Google Keyword Research tool but have found it to be increasingly limited in the insights it provides over recent years). Your onsite search data can often be used to help reveal content that people are looking for that doesn’t answer their question – enabling you to prioritise content production schedules.
- Other user tracking tools – you can get much closer to how your users are navigating (and potentially getting lost/confused) across your site by using tools like Hot Jar and Insightech that offer session recording and playback capability.
The Home Page
Your home page is the front page of your organisation. It is also the meeting point for all of the content on your site.
Whilst a website’s home page can be the first page that visitors see when they land on a website – there are often many more entry points that should be thought about (check your landing page report in Google Analytics to see the most common entry points). For those that see it, it can serve as the introduction to the site and sets the tone for the rest of the user’s experience. Although, remember some viewers will already be familiar with your organisation and might be looking to access their account or other content that they come back to consume. The home page is usually designed to provide an overview of the site’s purpose, products, or services, and to encourage visitors to explore further. Check out the Digital Ninjas, Lifeline Australia or ReachOut Australia homepages for some great examples.
Traffic to your home page comes from many sources. The home page should work for all users at every stage of their journey, for users who have never visited your site, and for repeat users who want to access specific content.
For this reason, your home page should include content that explains to the visitor at a glance what your site is about, and it should also have straightforward navigation for new and repeat visitors to access more content.
Your home page can work for awareness campaigns, as it allows visitors to understand the purpose of your brand or charity. It is an invitation to explore your brand and should encourage visitors to do so, as it allows visitors to discover further information organically.
If you’ve featured a campaign heavily across channels, for example direct mail, direct response TV (DRTV) ads, billboards, radio etc, it’s often a good idea to feature the campaign in a prominent position on your homepage as people will often type your raw website URL or just search your brand as opposed to entering any campaign URLs that you may have used, example campaign URL is be www.charityname.org/taxappeal
Quite often due to the level of focus from internal stakeholders on what an organisation’s homepage should contain/look like, it will become a mish-mash of everything the charity does. As opposed to being user-lead and surfacing the most used/needed content. A big no-no for homepages is using carousels – these are the banners/images that rotate from offer-to-offer – they’re usually implemented due to indecisiveness and nobody being able to make a decision on what to feature on the homepage. Carousels often confuse the user and result in usability issues – we’d recommend avoiding them!
High Intent pages
On the other hand, high-intent pages are pages that are specifically designed to convert visitors into customers or clients. These pages are often used to promote a specific product, service, or offer and are optimised for conversion. High-intent pages are typically focused on a specific action that the visitor should take, such as filling out a form, making a purchase, or signing up for a newsletter. High Intent landing pages should have a specific goal and a call-to-action (CTA) that encourages users to act.
High-intent pages work best for users who are looking for a solution to a specific problem or at least who are ready to take action. Traffic to high-intent landing pages often comes from paid media campaigns but might also come from organic, email and other similar channels where you’re trying to funnel users along a specific path. Sending users to the home page at this stage in their journey merely adds friction and puts further responsibility on the visitor to navigate the site to discover their solution.
Each landing page should have one goal directed at a single reader at a specific stage of the user flow. For example;
- Content Page
- Landing pages with in-depth content help visitors understand your brand, charity, and what you do. They might tell a story, help build awareness, and include an email sign-up option.
- Donate Page
- Donate landing pages offer information on why your donors should give to your non-profit and specific CTA. They also include information to guide the visitor through the process, such as a suggested donation amount and the impact the donation will have, these are often referred to as “dollar handles” by fundraisers.
- Sign-up Page
- Allow you to gather leads or sign people up to events. Depending on the type of proposition it can signal that a user is ready to sign-up and take part in the event or it might be that they’re just signing up to receive some more information (or access the lead magnet that you’re offering).
Landing Page Tests
It isn’t easy to know which content will perform best without testing it. If your traffic has a good amount of traffic and clear goals then it can be a good idea to run an A/B test to see if tweaks of the content/layout/calls-to-action or other page elements can help you to increase conversion rates. You can run A/B tests on any page of your website but if your page is getting anything less than 1,000 visits per month it might take you a long time to run a test and get a statistically significant result (that said it’s technically entirely possible to run tests on pages with less than 1,000 visits/month).
Some questions to ask yourself when creating a landing page and designing A/B tests:
- What is my goal? What action do I want the visitor to take?
- What is my offer? What value am I creating for the visitor?
- What type of landing page best presents my go offer and encourages the visitor to take my preferred action?
- Does the page include all relevant information? Is there too much or too little?
- Would another page solve this problem better? Is there something I should be testing? Then list out the potential tests and try to prioritise them by considering the potential impact of the test vs how technically challenging it might be to implement that particular testing idea.
We could talk about A/B testing all day but the key thing to remember is to use data as much as possible in formulating your testing hypothesis. For example you might find that people are only consuming half the content on the page (using your page scroll tracking) therefore the test might become focused on long-form vs shorter-form page content and/or using some interesting content/design to pull people through the part of the page where most of the drop-off is. For example, if the majority of people only scroll to 40% of the page content when viewed on a mobile, is there something that you could do at the 40% point (or just before) that excites people about what’s to come!?
The key difference between a home page and a high-intent page is the level of focus. The home page is designed to provide an overview and to give visitors a general idea of what the site is all about. It’s important to keep the home page simple, easy to navigate, and to include clear calls to action that encourage visitors to explore further.
High-intent pages, on the other hand, are designed with a specific goal in mind and are focused on converting visitors into customers. These pages should be optimised for conversion, which means that they should be designed with addressing barriers to conversion and be as easy to understand and navigate as possible. .
In addition to the difference in focus, home pages and high-intent pages also differ in terms of their content. Home pages typically include a mixture of content, including text, images, videos, and calls to action. High-intent pages, on the other hand, are typically more focused and include less content, with a greater emphasis on calls to action. This helps to keep the page focused and to reduce distractions, which can lead to higher conversion rates.
It should be noted that making a donation to a cause that somebody cares about isn’t necessarily the same as buying from an ecommerce store when it comes to optimisation. For example, in an emergency (e.g. the recent Earthquake in Turkiye and Syria), an upfront call to action might be really effective as people are ready to help by donating. However, in the scenario of a standard appeal where the urgency isn’t quite as high as an emergency appeal, it might be more effective to focus on telling the story more effectively before slapping people in the face (not literally, of course) with a big “donate” button.
Both homepages and high-intent pages play important roles in a website’s overall design and strategy. The home page serves as the foundation of the site and sets the tone, while high-intent pages are crucial for generating conversions and driving results. To maximise the effectiveness of a website, it’s important to strike a balance between the two and to make sure that both the home page and high-intent pages are designed and optimised for their intended purposes. A common mistake that we see people make is to spend 90% of a website redesign commenting on and feeding back on the homepage, whereas most organisations will see the majority of their traffic arriving on other landing pages across the site.
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