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Shape Your Home Page

     Your home page might be the most important page of your Web site. Warm greeting to visitors isn't enough. It serves important jobs that can change your online business's fate.

Grab the Attention

     Your home page must grab visitors' attention in 15 seconds. Otherwise, they will be gone. You need an irresistible headline, and make that headline the most visible thing in your home page. Also, during the first 15 seconds, surfers only scan the page, so make your page scan friendly. Highlight, bold, or use bullets to make words that clearly state visitors' benefits more visible. This strategy helps to convince more visitors to stay at your site.

Lead Visitors

     You got their attention. Now, your home page has to guide visitors without confusion to where they want to go. Listing lots of links only confuses visitors, so you have to limit the number of links. If your site is too big to do so, consider making a site map or adding an in-site search feature. Furthermore, nice descriptive link names aren't good enough. Link names are only a few words long, but make them good sales copy. If you make them attractive, more visitors will click those links.

Lightning Fast Download

     On top of that, your home page must download quickly. Ten seconds is about the limit Web surfers will wait. If your page takes longer than 10 seconds to download, surfers will leave your site and go to your competitors with fast loading pages. Because there are a lot of small communities where high-speed Internet connections aren't available, I would still stick with the old standard of 30KB per page. People living in those communities are more adapted to the Internet. They can shop for anything they want without an hour drive to a shopping mall.

Appendix: Estimating Loading Time

     You can estimate loading time by:

1,024 X file size (KB) X 8 / connection speed (Kbps) X 1,000
KB: Kilo Bytes
Kbps: Kilo bits per second
  • 1 Kilo Byte = 1,024 (210) Bytes
  • 1 Byte = 8 bits
  • Capital "B" indicates Bytes; lower case "b" indicates bits.
  • Connection speeds fluctuate due to network conditions.
  • Don't think about this formula too much unless you are an IT engineer.

     It is very tricky to make a good home page. You need to test it a lot. Try different home pages, and keep the one that pulled the best results.

© December, 2002