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Instead of trying to cram everything into one single front page, your business could make good use of multiple high-converting front pages.

by Jerry “Doctor Spin” Silver // Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
Senior Digital Strategist // Spin Factory

I often get involved in heated debates on what to include on the front page. It goes a little something like this:

“We really must put my work on the front page because it’s real important.”

If I then introduce concepts such as above-the-fold1, the debate often gets even more heated. And if I would weigh in by saying that certain elements aren’t that important, the chances are that someone will get offended. Like, “how dare you pass judgement on the importance of what I do for a living?”

Since this tends to be a tricky situation, to say the least, I want to give you some easy-to-follow mindsets and examples to help you get your front page strategy right.

Here goes:

It’s Not Actually About What’s “Important”

The key for an efficient front page design is to stop thinking about what to put on the front page regarding what’s “important” and what’s “not important”.

Let’s take a look at Google’s front page:

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 13.51.16

Now, Google has lots of important products. Google Drive, Google Maps, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Google Trends, Google Adsense, Google Scholar and many, many more. The only service that makes it is Gmail (top right corner), but it isn’t exactly prominent. And of course, Google’s also involved in experimental R&D projects such as self-driving cars and bio-hacking.

All these Google products and areas are reasonably important, right? Even still, they don’t make the cut to be highlighted on Google’s most important front page — the Google search page.

So the choice of what to put on the front page isn’t related to what’s “important” or “not important”. Instead, your front page should be regarded as a point of entry into your brand’s universe. If people are ready to enter, THEN you’re allowed to show them more!

“Yes, There are Exceptions” (No. 1)

Yes, there are successful businesses who also have cluttered websites:

Amazon.com might be the obvious example, but my favourite example got to be lingscars.com and their rather “more-is-more” approach to web design:

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 13.27.48

But you still have to ask yourself if this is the right direction for you and your brand? My guess is: No, excess probably isn’t the right direction.

“Yes, There are Exceptions” (No. 2)

Some businesses have made it their business to produce news-driven content en masse, like Mashable. These sites can sustain a front page as full of content as their daily output of content are massive, but these types of stories often has very short “shelf-life”. Therefore, they do well with layouts like this one:

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 14.06.31

But even news sites are looking at more basic front page layouts. Look for instance at how a front page at Huffington Post looks:

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 14.13.08

Or Business Insider UK:

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 14.15.00

Dare to Focus on What’s Not Necessarily Important to You

Allow me to use myself as an example:

On Doctor Spin’s front page, I use a feature box, meaning I push my blog post down below the fold to focus on one single CTA (“grab my FREE 28-Day Digital PR Challenge.”) instead:

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 14.40.33

But the 28-day email course isn’t exactly very important to me. As a freelance2 advisor to leading brands, I sell my services. If no-one hires me, I get no salary. Thus, promoting my services is important to me. The lead domino is to earn trust by demonstrating my knowledge. Without trust, return visits, shares or leads, there are often no sales. And without sales, no food for me!

The psychology behind focusing on smaller asks  is rather straightforward:

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 14.57.06

By making a “small ask” (your email address in exchange for something valuable to you) instead of a “big ask” (invest in hiring me as an advisor), I can capture and nurture trusting relationships over time, slowly moving prospects from 9% to 1%.

Why You Should Keep Numerous ‘Front Pages’

If we look back at the Google example, one could say that they are using multiple front pages. If we look att Google Drive’s “front page” (below the Swedish version), you can see the same strategy; there are just one message and one CTA (call-to-action) above the fold. It works because it’s crystal clear:

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 14.21.55

Instead of trying to cram everything into one single front page, your business could utilise multiple high-converting “front pages”.

This strategy rests on the same fundamentals as using single-purpose landing pages3, a strategy I call Iceberg Publishing, where there are a wealth of pages doing most of the site’s heavy lifting beneath the surface.

Notes:

  1. The part of a webpage that is visible without requiring the user to scroll.
  2. If you’re interested in my morning routine as a digital marketing freelancer, check out this article.
  3. Contrary to popular belief, a landing page isn’t a page where people “land”. A landing page is a single-purpose web page with only one CTA (call-to-action). More and more conversion experts are arguing that most pages within a website’s structure should, in fact, be landing pages!

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Behind the keyboard:

Jerry Silver is the author of Doctor Spin, a PR blog that's been around for 15+ years. Via his agency Spin Factory, Jerry is advising brands on how to adapt to a 'digital first' world. In 2016, Cision Scandinavia named him "PR Influencer of the Year". Jerry lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his wife Lisah, news anchor and television host, and their three-year-old son, Jack.


Doctor Spin’s comment policy:
“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

Reader reactions:

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Peter Svenonius

Nice post Jerry! I would also add the use of data analytics and continous testing, to verify what should and should not be on any web site’s front page. Perhaps something for a follow up post!

Reply
Doctor Spin

“If it plays, it stays.” Great addition to the post and a logical next step for when you’ve made your initial assumptions. Thanks for adding to the post, Peter. Have a great Sunday.

Jakob Rydberg

Great post. Got me thinking of Susan Weinchenkt and the small commitment/small ask principle. Her example is like – “If you ask someone your interested in very early on ‘would you marry me’..you’d probably get dumped right away. But if you ask ‘would you like to go on a date with me’, the chance is that stuff will happen.”

Another thing we talk alot about with our customers is that when we try to get traffic to web sites (organic, paid or whatever way we can get our heads around) often the first page won’t be the visitors first page, it’ll be a blog post or something else.

Anyways, love your posts!

Reply
Doctor Spin

I love the analogy with the wedding proposal! Puts the whole concept of “big ask vs small ask” in perspective! :) Take care and thanks for taking the time to share, Jakob!