The Classic Home Page Debate

Keep it clean and focus on a small ask.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

What should you put on your home page (e.g. “front page”)? Cluttered home pages with many CTAs (call-to-actions) typically produce worse results. You should prioritise CTAs not based on what’s important to your organisation (big ask), but on the most engaging point of entry (small ask) for first-time visitors.

I often con­front cli­ents in the clas­sic home page debate.

Most organ­isa­tions put too much con­tent on their home pages. Due to the para­dox of choice, this prac­tice hurts their con­ver­sions and, by exten­sion, their busi­ness objectives.

Here we go:

The Classic Home Page Debate

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The Classic Home Page Debate

We must put all these items on our home page because they’re all import­ant to us.”

I often get involved in heated debates on what to include on the home 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 home page?”

Since this situ­ation is tricky, here’s a men­tal mod­el to help you clean up your home page approach:

The key to an effi­cient home page design is to stop think­ing about what’s “import­ant” and “not important”.

Take a look at Google’s de facto home page:

Google's home page.
Google’s home page.

Now, Google has many essen­tial products: 

  • Google Gmail
  • Google Drive
  • Google Maps
  • Google Chrome
  • Google Earth
  • Google Trends
  • Google Ads
  • Google Adsense
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Scholar

… to name a few. However, the only ser­vice on the home page apart from Google Search is Gmail (top right corner), which isn’t prom­in­ent on the home page.

All these Google products are reas­on­ably sig­ni­fic­ant, right? However, they still don’t replace Google’s de facto home page — the Google Search page.

If Google can keep its home page clean, why can­’t you? Is everything in your busi­ness more import­ant to your vis­it­ors than, let’s say, Google Drive?

Small Ask vs Big Ask

What single CTA (call-to-action) should you focus your home page on? Instead of basing your design decision on “bot­tom line import­ance,” focus­ing on a small rather than a big ask often makes sense.

Small ask = a value pro­pos­i­tion that requires little effort and resources for a pro­spect to accept. It works best when the ask offers a swift, hassle-free solu­tion for an urgent pain point.

Big ask = a value pro­pos­i­tion that requires high engage­ment and a sub­stan­tial trans­ac­tion by the pro­spect. It works best when mutu­al under­stand­ing and trust are thor­oughly established.

By pri­or­it­ising a small ask on the home page design, you increase the like­li­hood of build­ing a “yes lad­der” by ask­ing pos­ing slightly big­ger asks in sequence over time.

Learn more: The Classic Home Page Debate

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Conversion Cannibalism

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Conversion Cannibalism

Imagine a web page with 1,000 vis­it­ors per day. The page has only one but­ton for the users to click. On aver­age, the site’s con­ver­sion rate is 2%, equal to 20 clicks on your button.

So, what if you add anoth­er but­ton? The page’s con­ver­sion rate does­n’t increase in most use cases — it falls. Instead of get­ting 20 clicks on one but­ton, you might get 10 clicks on two.

Two call-to-actions in the same browser view will typ­ic­ally can­ni­bal­ise each other.

The Paradox of Choice

An easy way to think of web­site CTAs (call-to-actions) is to think of but­tons and forms. 

Buttons and forms are sub­ject to the para­dox of choice. 

In 1995, Professor Shena Iyengar from Columbia University launched 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.

Our decision-mak­ing pro­cess is com­plex, but research­ers have offered many pos­sible explan­a­tions, such as decision fatigue, ana­lys­is para­lys­is, and buy­er­’s remorse. 1Piasecki, M., & Hanna, S. (2011). A Redefinition of the Paradox of Choice. , 347 – 366. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​0​7​/​978 – 94-007‑0510-4_19

Horizontal vs Vertical CTAs

On the web today, we see a trend where there is white space to both the left and right of but­tons and forms. We also see a trend where more of the same CTAs are stacked from top to bottom.

  • The few who reach your content’s call to action (con­tent diver = click­ing ver­tic­ally) are more valu­able than those who only scan its first head­line (con­tent surfer = click­ing horizontally).

There is a form of “align­ment can­ni­bal­ism” tak­ing place when it comes to but­tons and forms. These align­ment issues should be con­sidered when design­ing a web page:

  • Buttons and forms with dif­fer­ent CTAs com­pete on a web page. One single CTA often con­verts more than sev­er­al CTAs.
  • Button and form ele­ments com­pete when stacked hori­zont­ally on a web page. Presenting only one but­ton or form per hori­zont­al block would be best.
  • Buttons and forms with dif­fer­ent CTAs com­pete with each oth­er if stacked ver­tic­ally. But not as much as if you stacked them horizontally.
  • If but­tons and forms are stacked ver­tic­ally and con­tain the same CTA, the total con­ver­sion rate for that web page is likely to go up!

Learn more: Beware of Conversion Cannibalism

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Signature - Jerry Silfwer - Doctor Spin

Thanks for read­ing. Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing art­icles with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tions and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. You might also con­sider my PR ser­vices or speak­ing engage­ments.

PR Resource: Inbound vs Outbound

Jerry Silfwer speaking about inbound marketing
Jerry Silfwer (Doctor Spin) speaks about inbound marketing.
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Inbound vs Outbound

The inbound mind­set is a fun­da­ment­al shift in the PR- and mar­ket­ing industry.

Historically, many PR- and mar­ket­ing depart­ments have argued:

Why should we spend our PR- and mar­ket­ing budgets on ‘already acquired’ audi­ences?”

The truth is — it’s the oth­er way around.

Instead of “spam­ming” non-exist­ing audi­ences, pub­lic rela­tions and mar­ket­ing can do much more with exist­ing online pub­lics. 2Silfwer, J. (2015, June 11). The Publics in Public Relations. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​p​u​b​l​i​c​s​-​i​n​-​p​u​b​l​i​c​-​r​e​l​a​t​i​o​ns/

Drawing a line between those who know you and those who don’t know you is noth­ing new:

  • Pull mar­ket­ing vs push mar­ket­ing
  • Hot leads vs cold leads
  • Permission mar­ket­ing vs tra­di­tion­al marketing
  • Internal com­mu­nic­a­tions vs extern­al communications

This inbound shift is the online equi­val­ent of draw­ing the line between those who know you and those who don’t know you:

  • Inbound com­mu­nic­a­tions vs out­bound communications

If your Inbound Shift PR Strategy is good, you might not need to pri­or­it­ise out­bound PR strategies — because your inbound audi­ence will attract out­bound publics.

Learn more: The Inbound Shift PR Strategy: Beauty From Within

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1 Piasecki, M., & Hanna, S. (2011). A Redefinition of the Paradox of Choice. , 347 – 366. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​0​7​/​978 – 94-007‑0510-4_19
2 Silfwer, J. (2015, June 11). The Publics in Public Relations. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​p​u​b​l​i​c​s​-​i​n​-​p​u​b​l​i​c​-​r​e​l​a​t​i​o​ns/
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations obviously; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that it's good to have hobbies outside work.

The cover photo has



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