Let’s face it, the landing page of your website is usually the first thing that your clients see and you want to make sure you are doing everything you can to keep them on your site.
Last summer I sat down and took a real honest look at my website and really delved into what was working and what wasn’t. This led to what I want to call a “re-alignment”, because what ended up happening was the design stayed quite similar, I just infused more elements into the website to make it more successful and to create a better user experience – if you make it easy for people to book with you, they will. This also illustrates that you don’t always need a full overhaul to make your website work for you.
In my experiences with re-aligning my website, I came up with 5 main tips that will help you to not only attract more clients, but the right clients for you.
I’d like to note that I do not have a splash page. This is extremely deliberate. The splash page trend grew out of the explosion of Flash based photography websites, because search engines cannot “see inside” flash. The splash page became the conduit to which the photographer was able to pass important search engine juiciness to keep them searchable. I do not have any flash on my website anywhere – not a lick. Because my website is built using HTML5, it is fully search engine optimized and I don’t have to worry about having that splash page. The tips that I am about to give come from my site, sans splash page, but it doesn’t mean that you cannot implement these into your flash based portfolio as well.
1. Immediately connect with YOUR client
Your primary goal should be to connect with the client right away – this is achieved with branding and the overall look and style of the website and the portraits that are carefully chosen to accomplish a task. I am a very big believer in using branding and photographic style to qualify clients so that you end up working with those clients you absolutely love. I don’t particularly want a client seeking only black and white images, so the portraits I have chosen are bright and vibrant.
Wording is also very important. Not only is it good for search engine optimization, but by placing the right kinds of words on your homepage, you are singling out the correct client. These sentences should be filled with keywords and phrasing you want to capture if someone types it into a search engine, but the trick is to make it look natural. The image above highlights in yellow, phrases that I want my potential clients to identify with and entice them to look further into my work and ultimately book with me.
Keep the most important things you want to feature above the fold – this refers to the main viewable area when the website is loaded. You don’t want your potential clients to have to scroll for something important, like the navigation or your main portfolio images. It is a bit trickier on the web because by nature, the web is dynamic and everyone is having a different viewing experience depending on the kind of computer, browser, screen resolution etc. Because of this, keep the most important items closer to the top. This makes it easy for your potential client to find what they are looking for quickly.
2. Let them know you are legit
Clients will book photographers they can trust – they want to know that you are for real and not just stealing someone else’s images and passing them off as your own. One great way to do this is to have testimonials on your website. Testimonials, in your past clients’ own words, give you credibility.
You can get testimonials from emails the clients write you, thank you notes or you can simply ask them! Most clients are happy to do this for you.
Make sure to have more than one, and I personally like to see the images of the people who are writing the testimonial and this is something I want to do with my own site in the future.
3. Go Big or Go Home (for your images)
I feel like I say this a lot, but usually it’s in reference to shopping for some electronic gadget I probably don’t need. What I mean by this in the context of your homepage is that you should be selecting a few of your absolute best images and featuring them BIG. We are photographers so we want our work to be at the forefront of our potential clients’ minds and this is a great way to do it.
When I say a few, I really mean it. It is so hard to edit down and choose your best (I am beyond horrible at it) but you want to leave them wanting more, so they click further into your website. If you are having troubles, get a friend or family member to help you out with a fresh set of eyes – they won’t be as emotionally attached to the images as you are. I get my husband to help me choose quite a bit.
I touched on this before, but I’ll say it again; don’t show anything on your website that you don’t want to shoot. By this I mean that if you really don’t want to shoot babies, don’t have any images only featuring babies. The same goes for style, if you really hate a certain style like sepia, don’t feature work that has that post processing done to it. You will attract people who like the work you feature.
4. Tell the client where you want them to go
This is something that took me a really long time to learn. People get overwhelmed easily and most people just want you to literally tell them what is important and what you want them to look at. It sounds too simple to work, but it does. Make sure you link to critical content – the content you want them to look at.
Make sure you have your navigation clearly visible, and use words that are obvious and descriptive. I feature my wedding portfolio under a menu item called “weddings” – I don’t call it “love” or “I do”, I call it weddings. People know that when they click on that menu item, they will see images about weddings. If you make it too creative or too vague, they might get confused and leave your website and that is just not cool.
This also doubles as good SEO. Your menu links (in a non-flash website), will likely be text and the more keywords in text on the page, the higher you will rank for those keywords.
One of the goals of my own website’s homepage, is to get my potential clients to look at my blog because that is where my most recent work is featured. Because of this, I have a prominent section at the bottom that features the most recent blog posts regarding weddings, portraits and pets. It has a thumbnail sneak peek and a short description about that blog post. It is labelled “Recent Blog Posts” so the client knows where they are going when they click on the links.
It may also be a good idea to have some sort of contact information on your homepage so a potential client can get in touch quickly because you want them to book you.
5. Call to Action Buttons
A call to action button is an extension of the previous tip – it is a very obvious ploy to get your potential client to actually do something, in this case, click on it. Typically it is a button of some sort and with it you are able to really emphasize something you want them to do. The button is usually bigger than the regular text and stands out in some way (color, positioning etc). Also, there are very few call to action buttons because you want them to stand out.
To figure out what call to action buttons you need to really think about what you want your potential client to do after they arrive on your landing page. When I did this, I decided I wanted them to do one of two things; look at my work or contact/book me and so my call to action buttons were born. The wording on my call to action buttons are very obvious “Book Now” or “View Gallery”. For my site, I have three main sub sections – weddings, portraits and pets and there are two call to action buttons for each section. The trick for mine is that only two will show up at once. By showing two, I am giving the potential client the option of “this or that”. I am telling them where I want them to go, but still allowing them to feel like they are making the choice themselves.
Summary of 5 Tips to Streamline Your Homepage Design
There are many opportunities right on your homepage to direct your potential clients to click further into your website. Connect with your type of client using wording and keeping the most important items at the top of the page, display short testimonials to earn trust, show your best images and show them big and tell the client where you want them to go by the use of call to action buttons.
Have you found any of this information useful? Have you made any of these changes to your home page and how did it go? Share your stories with others in the comments below.