Does your front page suffer from conversion cannibalism?
Most organisations put too much content on their front pages. Unknowingly, they hurt their conversions and, by extension—their business objectives.
In this article, I will demonstrate why less is more also in front page design.
Let’s dive right in:
The Corporate Front Page Debate
“We must put my stuff on the front page because it’s crucial.”
I often get involved in heated debates on what to include on the front page. If I weigh into the debate that they should remove certain elements, the chances are that someone will get offended. Like, “how dare you remove my work from our front page?”
Since this is a tricky situation, I want to give you some easy-to-follow examples to help you get your front page strategy straight.
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”. Take a look at Google’s front page:
Now, Google has lots of essential products. Google Drive, Google Maps, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Google Trends, Google Adsense, Google Scholar, and many more. The only service that makes it onto the front page is Gmail (top right corner), but it isn’t exactly prominent on the front page.
All these Google products are reasonably significant, right? Even still, these Google products don’t make the cut for Google’s front page—the Google search page.
And Google ought to know something about how the web works.
The Paradox of Choice
Imagine a web page with 1,000 visitors per day. The page has only one button for the users to click. The conversion rate for the site is 2% on average. That’s 20 clicks on your button.
So, what if you add another button? In most use cases, the conversion rate for the page doesn’t go up—it falls. Instead of getting 20 clicks on one button, you might find yourself getting ten clicks in total on two buttons.
Call-to-actions tend to cannibalise on each other.
This is the paradox of choice. In 1995, Professor Shena Iyengar from Columbia University put up a market stall with different jam flavours. When she offered twenty-four options, more people came to the booth. When she only offered six choices, more people converted into paying customers.
Strive to show visitors only what they came for. Kill your darlings.
Only when the user goes deeper into your site can you show them more of your content.
Horizontal vs. Vertical CTAs
An easy way to think of website CTAs (call-to-actions) is to think of buttons and forms. Buttons and forms are precious since they determine your conversions.
There is a form of “alignment cannibalism” taking place when it comes to buttons and forms. And these alignment issues should be considered when designing your front page.
On the web today, we see a trend where there is white space to both the left and right of buttons and forms. And we see a trend where more of the same CTAs are stacked from top to bottom.
You’re Probably Not an Exception
Yes, there are successful businesses that also have cluttered websites:
Amazon.com might be the prime example, but my favourite got to be lingscars.com and her rather “more-is-more” approach to web design:
But your business is probably not Ling’s. And it probably isn’t Amazon’s.
You also have to ask yourself if cluttered is the right direction for your brand? A statistical guess would be: No.
Unless you’re running a non-posh e-commerce- or news site with lots of content and a high turnover on content items, I would be careful with such an over-the-top strategy.
Priority: The Small Ask
The choice of what to put on the front page isn’t related to what’s necessary or not necessary. Instead, your front page should be regarded only as a point of entry into your brand’s universe.
The psychology behind focusing on smaller asks is straightforward, as explained by the Engagement Pyramid:
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%.
(Small asks are often referred to as lead magnets.)
The Iceberg Publishing Strategy
If we look back at the Google example, one could say that they are using multiple front pages. If we look at Google Drive’s “front page”, 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:
Instead of trying to cram everything into one single front page, your business could utilise multiple high-converting “front pages” instead, a strategy I call Iceberg Publishing—where there are many hidden direct entry pages beneath the site’s surface.
A landing page isn’t a page where people “land”. A landing page is a single-purpose web page with one CTA only.
More and more conversion experts argue that most pages within a website’s structure should be landing pages. Landing pages are accessible for search engines to drive relevant traffic to, and since they’re stripped of any unnecessary content. This is a strategy I call Iceberg Publishing, where many pages are doing most of the site’s heavy lifting beneath the surface.
Please keep it clean, people.