The best tactics for your homepage in 2014

The homepage is a critically important page for many reasons. Oftentimes it is one of (if not the most) trafficked web page that we have on our websites.

Homepages were once the authoritative one-stop-shop for online brands, but over the years, search engines become more adept at understanding what users are looking for and their purpose has become more targeted. Just as the homepage’s purpose has progressed, so too have the wants and expectations of the people viewing them; and as marketers, it’s our job to deliver on those expectations.

To understand how the purpose of the homepage has evolved, we’ll take a look at some of the original ways of developing a homepage and compare them to the practices of 2014.

Give your homepage a singular focus

It used to be that we would promote all of the major sections of our site on the homepage — here’s our product, check out our blog, here’s this new launch point, look at this new thing we’re doing!  All of this is great, but they end up competing with each other for attention. And while these methods may have worked for websites of yesteryear, it’s not working in 2014.

Nowadays, we can make each of these different sections easy to find and navigate. This way we can focus our homepages uniquely on the most important information, the most important customers and visitors. Whatever you want to say, communicate it quickly and in a visual-centric way — perhaps a video or some graphics that reinforce your primary message.

From here you can A/B test different variations of your homepage to find out what viewers respond to the best.

Cut back on the keywords

It used to be standard practice to try to cram as many keywords as possible into the homepage. And in the past, this made sense because it would have been your highest PageRank page as well as the page that earned the most links.

These days, Google and other search engines are much more sophisticated and understanding. They know your website is about a lot of different things, not just the one page, and are considerate about a site’s authority in different areas and around keyword terms and phrases. This allows your internal pages to inherit strength and authority from your overall site, which lets you focus on a smaller, more refined subset of keywords on your homepage. Focus on brand-centric keywords and leave the unbranded ones for more specific pages deeper in your site.

Communicate quickly

Back when we were cramming as many keywords into the homepage as humanly possible, we needed walls and walls of text to harbour them.

Since we no longer need to accommodate a generous helping of keywords, you can ditch the lengthy prose and quickly communicate the primary objective of your homepage — your value proposition. Many good homepages use simple text and take a visual-centric approach to help the viewer absorb the information in a swift and interesting way — this could be a video, illustration or graphic, just to name a few.

Don’t stress about the fold

In the past, there was a lot of pressure to keep your important information “above the fold.”  But thanks to tablets, smartphones and wider screens, we as website viewers do a lot more scrolling, so really, the concept of keeping everything above the fold is becoming more and more antiquated. Keep some page content at the traditional scroll line, it will keep the experience compelling and draw the eye downwards, encouraging the viewer to keep scrolling and giving visibility to the rest of the information on your homepage.

There is a lot that can be said about homepage development, but these four points cover some very important issues. When writing a homepage, above all focus on clarity and simplicity. Help people understand quickly what the site is about and enable them to find what they are looking for without having to work hard to find it. A well designed and organised homepage will allow your visitors to feel comfortable and confident that they have come to the right place.


If you think your homepage needs some refurbishing, but are unsure where to start, contact our Digital Manager, Veronica Nobbs. She’ll be happy suggest some tips and tricks to get your website running on all cylinders. p: 950 2143

Death to CAPTCHAs or risk killing your conversion rate

While CAPTCHAs have their admirable qualities in principle, the vast majority of the internet-using populous sees them as detestable, unreadable road-blocks that almost no one can decipher. Theoretically, a CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) protects virginal, doe-eyed users from the villainous clutches of bots hell-bent on spamming civilisation into oblivion; however, most of us would quietly take our chances if it meant we could finally rid the web-world of obscured, distorted letters and words challenging us to prove our human authenticity.

Courtesy of 9Gag

CAPTCHAs are widespread and often used to prevent comment spam and the automated submission of web forms, contact details, online polls or registrations. It seems like these barriers may be a necessary precaution for webmasters, but the hard truth is that the use of CAPTCHAs could be killing your conversion rate.

By including CAPTCHA in your website, you’re setting obstacles between you and your customers. It creates friction at the climax of the user’s site experience which, in turn, results in a percentage of users prematurely abandoning their task.

In 2009, Casey Henry, a web developer out of Seattle, conducted an independent case study over the 50 pages he either managed or had access to. He concluded that the sites with CAPTCHA turned off saw up to a 3.2% increase of their conversion rates, which is a fairly big potential gain for a lot of companies.

So why do conversion rates dwindle in the presence of anti-bots? Well for one, they are incredibly difficult to read. Illegible letter and number combinations (is that a zero or the letter ‘O’?) often take several attempts to pass. And what about those with limited vision or dyslexia? An audio CAPTCHA is sometimes provided but, according to a Stanford University large-scale evaluation, audio CAPTCHA on average takes 28.4 seconds to hear and solve and have a 50% give-up rate. And with software becoming increasingly more sophisticated, it becomes just a matter of time before a CAPTCHA can be cracked. The result? Tests that become even more difficult.

So what can be done? CAPTCHA may be unavoidable for some sites, but there are some really simple solutions that can help reduce the amount of spam you are plagued with, without interfering with user experience.


Askimet provides an effective defense without having any effect on users. It comes as a variety of plug-ins and is generally fairly easy to implement on your site. Askimet monitors millions of sites, regularly learning new methods to combat comment spam.

The Honeypot Technique

Essentially, this technique hides a designated field on a form from the human user. Machines will still detect the hidden field and will mark it. If a rogue form is submitted with the invisible field marked, it will be discarded.

Confirmation Page

As the user enters his information on one page and submits it, he will be taken to the next page and prompted to confirm the previously entered information. This prevents robots from successfully entering information as they typically focus only on the page containing blank fields.

Interested in discussing other ways your website can boost your conversion rate, give us a bell on +64 9 950 2140 and find out why we’re so confident that we can boost your bottom line!


How your mobile browser experience affects your SEO

Search engine optimisation can be a tricky procedure for any business — especially on mobile. But as we live in the now, a world of tablet computers and smarter smart phones, we must accept the decline of the desktop in favour of something more portable and accessible. In the end, mobile is the future. While we cannot predict when mobile search will overpower desktop, it is inevitable. And to help ease us through the transition, Google has ordained and established a few suggestions.



Responsive Design — This is Google’s recommended configuration

Responsive design crafts sites to provide an optimal viewing experience — easy reading and navigation with minimal scrolling and re-sizing. And isn’t that what it’s all about? This type of web design adapts the layout to the viewing environment, which is great for mobile, tablet, and desktop devices! If you want to play it safe and smart, consider using this type of design for your next site (will also save you the headache of having to code both mobile and desktop sites).


Mobile Redirects

Mobile redirects are particularly essential to an eCommerce site with a variety of products. For example, if a person searches for “soccer ball” from a mobile device and a result is returned by say, Rebel Sport, that result must be directed to the mobile version of that page. In the event that only a portion of this site is optimised for mobile (home page, checkout, About page), it is recommended that the user is taken to a specific page, and not one which is a mobile-optimised home page.


Stay away from Flash!

Attempting to load a web page from a mobile device, only to find that is uses Flash, generates mounting frustrations as you unwillingly lower the proverbial anchor on any thought of further page navigation. Using embedded video that has been developed in HTML 5 will be accessible to all users. This way, if someone does happen to access your desktop site from a mobile device, the video will work seamlessly, and any attempt to view your product or service will not be thwarted by inflexible Flash.


404’s are a sure fire way to kill the mood

When Google says, “All pages should be optimised for mobile,” Google means it. If your site is mobile-friendly, but redirects users to a desktop 404 page, you’re still not quite hitting the mark. It is essential to confirm that your mobile 404 page is, in fact, formatted for mobile. Bear in mind that mobile 404 pages can be interesting and interactive for your users. Perhaps a game or a quiz?


How to create landing pages that convert

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, optimising your website for conversion should be a key component of your digital strategy. Here’s a simple blueprint to generate landing pages that convert will ultimately boost your bottom line.

Step One: How are you tracking?

Before throwing any additional funds at digital marketing you need to assess how well you are measuring your efforts, and simply having a Google tracking code in your HTML is not going to cut it.

1. Have conversions funnels been set up within Google Analytics (for email sign ups, purchases etc)?

2. Are your Google Webmaster/Adwords accounts linked to your Google Analytics account?

3. Are you tracking phone leads from your website?

4. Have you surveyed your web browsers /or collected feedback?

5. Are you measuring how many additional leads you are generating from your email marketing?

6. Are you analysing how users interact with your website, through the likes of heat maps in Google In-Page Analytics?

7. How do you track success? Too many companies rely solely on total website visitors.


Step Two: How intuitive is it?

If someone in your target market lands on your website how quickly can they grasp the concept and take an action that is both appropriate to what you want them to do and what will benefit them. Squarespace a great example of an intuitive landing page.

They have kept their homepage very simple, allowing people to use slick templates to build websites. Through the imagery and text they are creating the look of someone who has ‘created their own space,’ then the primary call to action directly in the centre is a “Get Started” button.


Step Three: What makes you different?

At the end of the day your website is there to sell you, so you have five seconds to convince visitors why they should use you over competitors. This is done by making your unique value proposition immediate, simple, clear and engaging.

Visual Website Optimizer is a great example of this. Traditionally A/B testing has required coding expertise, however Visual Website Optimizer stands out through a visual interface that allows anyone to be able to A/B test.


Step Four: How trusted are you?

If you are a new brand to the market you can build trust quickly by utilising either customer/client testimonials, industry accreditations or well-known other brands that have ties to your product or service.

If there is room, we recommend putting these trust building elements above the fold. This will help to improve conversion rates.


Conclusion: Whatever elements you choose to include in your website, as long as your tracking is set up correctly and changes are being A/B tested, you should never go too awry.

5 keys to successful web design for start-ups

Typically, new business start-ups are renowned for flying by the seat of their pants and getting bogged down with generating lots of great ideas that they don’t have the time and resources to execute well. The result being that the web design is an area that is often undercooked.

From a marketing perspective however, the most important area they need to focus on is their website. As their website is going to be the foundation for all of their marketing activity, it’s essential that they invest time in creating a dynamic website that’s easy to navigate and inspires browsers to take action. After all, their website is really the “online face” of their business.


If you’re a start-up, here’s 5 principles you need to follow when building your website:

    1. Keep your messaging simple and clear. As a start-up you don’t generally have any brand recognition or reputation so you literally have as little as 5-10 seconds to create the right impression and communicate your company’s point of difference in a compelling way.
    2. Use strong, purposeful calls to action. You need to make sure that when a visitor lands on your website you encourage them to take action — whether it’s leaving their contact details, downloading an eBook, etc.
    3. Clear product / service offering. Clarity is king! It’s really important that you clearly communicate what your product or service does. A good way to do this is to think about what the customer’s problem is and how your product or service solves it for them.
    4. Trust factor. You only have 5-10 seconds to build trust with browsers on your website, so you need to create visual clues that do this — logos of clients you have worked with, publications you have been featured in, and security certificates or certifications.
    5. Show don’t tell. Where possible, tell your story using videos, diagrams, and appropriate images. Not only are visuals more emotionally engaging, they are also more immediate and help browsers understand your company’s unique story quickly.


Conclusion: Creating a great web design and user experience can very quickly fall to the bottom of a start-ups priorities list, but don’t underestimate the value that it can bring to your fledgling business.