Have you ever been to visit a new client or office and had no clue where to go once you made it to the building? A few months ago, I had a day-long training session that I needed to attend. My GPS did a great job getting me to the right complex, but I was on my own once I parked.

The big logo on the front of the building assured me I was in the right place, but where was I supposed to go once I passed through the entrance?

My hopes of getting some guidance at the front desk were quickly dashed as I realized there was no one there. I could either take the door on the right, which seemed to be card-access only, or the door on the left. It was a moment of red-pill/blue-bill, and I was stuck in my indecision and ignorance.

I share this story because you should think of your website as your digital office space.

It’s stuffed with content that works for you all day long as an army of full-time employees. But is your homepage, the grand foyer of your website, set up to help inform and guide those who show up there? Reflect on your current homepage as we walk through some of the key elements that you can utilize to give new and returning visitors the experience they deserve. Anyone coming to your homepage is there with a purpose, so plan on addressing their needs by taking advantage of these small tips.

While homepage will be informational and help guide visitors to where they want to go, you must always have a clear menu that they can rely on when they are ready to view your other pages.

Newer visitors may need a good look at your homepage before they move further along, but others will know where they want to go, or know what they are looking for. Develop clear navigation that allows visitors to find what they need, when they need it.

Your logo also has a home up there by the menu. Having your logo at the top of your homepage establishes your brand and company name in the mind of the visitor, and it may also reveal your core focus, if the logo has a slogan added onto it.

In addition to adding brand value to the page, your logo is a helpful link straight back to your homepage. Internet users have come to expect and rely on the ability to click a site’s logo and be taken immediately to the homepage. Live up to the expectations and demands of good user experience.

2. Business Overview

Make it crystal clear, right on your homepage, what your company is all about.

I know I’m not alone when I say that I hate to spend five minutes or more scrolling through a company’s homepage, only to realize I don’t have the slightest clue what they actually do. Write copy that actually means something to the audience you are trying to reach, and show how you are here to help them. It’s up to you where you ultimately place this info and how you share it, but it needs to be there.

3. Ways to Self-Identify

Your navigation menu provides visitors with pathways to all of your online content, but you also need a few simplified ways for your audience to work their way through the buyer’s journey.

Often, this will manifest as a list of your key services. It could also be questions that your personas are asking, allowing them to relate to a specific problem and learn more about the solution you provide. On our homepage, for example, we ask a few key questions to address the goals of our different personas. “Tired of spending money on marketing that doesn’t work?” addresses our personas’ concern with ROI.

Here are the 6 essential elements your website homepage must have.

Give your visitors the chance to give a name to their problems and to take action to resolve them. By self-identifying with your services, visitors will know they are in the right place, eager to learn more about how you can help them.

4. Calls-to-Action and Content Offers

Businesses with an online presence understand that a website is an employee that works to promote your company 24/7. But if you don’t have any conversion offers readily available, it’s a wasted opportunity.

Establish clear goals for your homepage, and allow those goals to determine the content offers you present to visitors. This will keep you from going overboard with calls-to-action, and to carefully consider the top two or three actions you want visitors on your homepage to take, allowing the rest of the page to frame those goals.

Don’t ask anything of your visitors that they aren’t willing to give. Good user experience and good inbound marketing require meeting the prospect at the moment they are ready to take action, and no sooner. And when all is said and done, test and refine those CTAs and offers, always working to provide new and returning visitors with the content they want.

5. Validation

You’ve done great work, so don’t be shy about it.

Prospects want to know about the results you’ve gotten for your clients and your processes for achieving project goals. Having this information available will help them to see whether the projects you’ve done in the past are capable of addressing their own needs in the future.

Testimonials are a simple way to provide more personalized – and less salesy – proof of your company’s experience. It’s the customer’s word, assuring the prospect that they’ll get nothing but the very best work from your business.

If your company has won awards through your work with clients, wear those badges proudly. As with the testimonials, if you have an abundance of awards, display the ones that clearly show your expertise and will really mean the most to your visitors.

And while case studies can be used as content offers, some of my favorite case studies are online, ungated and beautifully laid out with great visuals and data. IMPACT’s website is a great example of providing testimonials alongside full-fledged case studies for visitors who want to dive deeper.

Developing case studies can seem like an overwhelming task, but it is more than worth the effort. Not only can your sales team pass them over to prospective clients with ease, great case studies can sit on your website and generate leads all day long. They’re your data-backed seals of approval from happy customers.

I’m sure your company’s website already has a footer, but it’s important to note some of the key elements that make a footer helpful to your visitors.

There’s a reason you tend to see links for “careers” pages in footers.

Footers are a great space for all of the important links that returning or context-specific visitors need. These are the links that you might not want dominating your menu navigation or homepage, but you still need them to exist and be available to those who are looking.

Returning visitors will know they can rely on these quick links to get them where they need to go.

Every business should know where their audience is, and should work to engage them on the social channels they use the most. Providing links to your own social accounts gives visitors an easy route over to your social pages.

If you’re active on one platform the most, you can also include a live feed of any updates your business posts. This can work well for companies that manage their Twitter accounts closely, or that use Instagram to provide frequent photo updates.

Contact Info or Form

Even if you provide this info elsewhere, it’s smart to have your contact information readily available to anyone in need of it. If not contact info, give them a small form to fill out or another means of contacting your team directly. Let them know you’ll get back to them in a timely manner.

Blog Posts or Subscribe

Lastly, you could also prioritize your blog in the footer of your website. If you aren’t promoting it elsewhere on the page, your footer can be a great place to either show a feed of new posts, or to have a CTA prompting visitors to visit the actual blog or subscribe.

Bonus: What should NOT be on your homepage?

I can’t reasonably talk about all the elements you need to beef up your homepage, without also mentioning two things that don’t deserve to be there.

Don’t Use Content Out of Context

You don’t want to overwhelm new visitors with CTAs and content offers that they aren’t ready for. Make sure your content appropriately addresses the stage of the buyer’s journey that they’re in.

A common way to address this issue is to do a combo offer. A bottom-of-the-funnel “Sign Up Today” is placed beside a more top-of-the-funnel “Learn More” or “Start a Free 30-Day Trial” CTA. Visitors who aren’t ready to commit are still able to take a small step forward, while those who know they want your solution can go right ahead and sign up for your service.

Don’t Use Sliders

Please. The data is in, and homepage sliders simply don’t live up to the task.

If you think sliders are a good idea because you have so many great offers to promote to your visitors, put yourself in their shoes and take a look at this slider example.

Go ahead, I’ll be here when you get back.

Done? Okay.

It’s painful to sit there and wait for all the slides to load, right? I gave up and started clicking the arrow buttons just to get through it all, and even when I wanted to read one of the facts it would scroll faster than I could read!

Homepage image sliders are lazy marketing. If you truly have too many great offers to choose from, that’s wonderful! Take one of the homepage goals you set to determine which of those offers is the most important, and craft it into one, singular hero image that will catch everyone’s eye.

Your homepage is the front door of your website, and you want to be sure you make a good first impression to new visitors – and a consistent experience to those returning. By limiting yourself and not going overboard with unnecessary content, you’ll see that you can get to your point much faster and give your visitors exactly what they are looking for.