Imagine I invite you to my house, we barely know each other. You come over, ring the doorbell, and I open the door. Standing just beyond the swing of the door, is my wife, children, dog, neighborhood cat, and a pile of stuff that you can’t readily identify. I say “hey, come on in”, and you take 1 step into the house, being unable to go farther because everyone is blocking the way.
Now that you’ve “come in” I start introducing you to everyone and everything, telling you fluffy’s life story, and how bobby the neighbor boy just broke his arm at the local playground. At this point, you might be feeling a little bit awkward, and saying to yourself “why am I here”, and “when can I leave”.
Does that sound like a fun experience? Then why would you want to treat guests to your homepage the same way? A good homepage is welcoming, clearly identifies why they’ve come, and invites them in to explore.
An ugly, cluttered, confusing home page will cause users to flee, reflected in a high bounce rate. The best way to reduce your bounce rate is to implement a clean and clear design that speaks to your target audience and makes it easy for them to find what they want.
While we like to show off great websites that we’ve created, I often have to wade through the internets shady back alley of design in the name of research. So, I thought maybe I should share some gems that epitomize what NOT to do. Run, no, Run Screaming, if someone tries to sell you on a site with design like this.
I stumbled upon this site while checking out a clients competitors. I always like to know what we’re up against. In this case, I spent several minutes exploring this site, for the same reason people have ugly sweater parties. The picture above is the navigation bar at the top of the site:
Let’s break this puppy down.
- First off, there are a lot of menu options, so much that it takes 3 rows to fit it all. I’m already confused, and I haven’t even read them yet.
- It gets worse! Yes, these are actually drop downs, under many of the headings, there are additional options! This must be the most complicated dental practice ever!
- Argh!, it gets even worse! Unbelievably, several of the drop down menu items have a sub-menu. That’s 3 levels of menu, on top of the already excessive 3 rows!
So, what’s wrong with having a comprehensive menu?
- If you think your visitors are going to go through 50+ pages, I’ve got a bridge to sell you…
- I’m not even sure what “Endodontics” is, let alone if I need something that’s encompassed in the sub menus.
- Confusing your customers is never a good business model (unless you’re a magician)
- Your menu is a powerful conversion tool, this one doesn’t give me a clear call to action.
This practice would almost be better off with a website that said “Have teeth? Call us!”, as it’s only content. All joking aside, I can’t imagine who would click “contact” based on the website. That represents a real, tangible, loss of sales dollars for this business.