eCommerce: the Perfect Home Page

Following the purchase stage structure (attention, capture, and decision making) described in previous posts analysing the product page – the category page, the shopping cart page, and the checkout page – in this post I will take a look at the home page, which plays a key role in the attention and capture stages, while providing useful elements for the decision making stage.

The main feature of the home page is that it is the equivalent of a shop window in the offline world. In the same way as the purpose of a shop window is to attract the attention of potential customers so that they will go in and explore shops in the physical world, the home page is the entry to your online store for users.

However, as in any comparison, details and differences should be pointed out:

While in the offline world the shop window is always the first contact point with customers, this is not always the case in the online world, as you can access other pages in the store from direct links or search engines (usually the product pages and the category pages). For this reason, you cannot assume that all your users will have visited your home page, so it is useful to include some elements described in this post in the rest of your store pages.

The window in a physical shop is designed to capture the attention of any customer walking past it. However, in an online store, customers have already carried out a prior action to land in your website. Even though there is the option of creating different landing pages for your campaigns, you can also include information in your home page which depends on the way in which it has been reached by users. For example, for users coming via a search engine like Google, you can highlight certain products on the basis of the search term, or you can use information compiled in previous sessions to remind users of products in which they already displayed an interest. In the case of websites where the same product is purchased on a recurring basis (like an online supermarket), you can remind users about their latest order or the products that are usually bought to improve user experience in your eCommerce store.

To summarise, you can personalise your home page for your users. Following the analogy between the window in a physical shop and the home page, regardless of the limitations intrinsic to this kind of comparison, we could say that in the online world you can change your shop window on the basis of the customer who stops to look at it.

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These are the page elements and their impact on the attention, capture, and decision making stages. As we previously discussed, you should always bear in mind that this is a general analysis which cannot always be applied to every website, or in the same way, as every business has its own specific features.

Brand image: given that your home page will sometimes be your presentation card for your consumers, as the first contact point and possibly the starting point for a session for your recurring customer, the webpage creativity (logo and brand images) should be attractive, at least for the user segment that constitutes your target.

– Navigability: even though the home page is not always the entry point to the website, you can use it as a starting point  for navigation. So it is useful to include an easy way to access the various sections in your eCommerce store from the home page. If you have a clear category tree, you can include a menu displaying the main categories that also dynamically shows  the various subcategories. This menu can also provide access to other sections, such as a blog or a user community.

– Product search: even though a good search engine should be available on every page, it becomes much more important on the home page, as it enables customers to quickly find what they are looking for, considerably improving user experience in your eCommerce store.

Deals and highlighted products: as in any shop window, you can attract your customers’ attention by showing the deals and most interesting products in your website. Particular attention should be paid to this section if you consider the personalisation possibilities previously mentioned, given that if you can choose which deals or highlighted products to show depending on the users visiting the page, you will attract their attention much more.

– Generation of trust: all aspects in your store which help to increase customer trust should have a prominent location in the home page. These include payment security, information on delivery expenses, and the delivery methods available. In addition, visible links to use policy, FAQ page, and returns policy should also be displayed.

Usually the page structure and components come from very different areas in your business, as you should combine elements focusing on the brand image which convey security, seriousness, and trust, while following the best navigability and usability practices. In addition, you can reserve certain areas for product display, be it general or personalised. The need to include many elements in the home page can sometimes result in overlarge pages. In these cases, the best solution is to create different areas or environments within the page, so that users have the feeling of seeing a full page when it is loaded, but can find more information by scrolling down.

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