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Design a homepage that delights your users in 9 easy steps (with tips and examples)

While product, UX, and marketing teams help shape a website or app’s homepage, a more powerful group holds the reins: the users. Their needs and preferences are key deciding factors in locking in an effective homepage design.

Last updated

20 Dec 2023

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7 min

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Ensure you’re right about what your users want: dive into their motivations and behaviors, and apply the resulting insights to every step of the design process. Then, create a homepage that not only looks visually stunning but also excels in user experience (UX)

Sounds like a plan? Let’s get rolling.

What we mean when we talk about good web design

For the noobs and individuals in need of a refresher, start your journey here. 👇 (Not you? Jump to the steps.)

Web design refers to the planning, creating, and presenting of a website's front end—i.e. the part that people see and interact with. Website homepage design falls under this umbrella.

Good website homepage design is human-centered. It guides the target audience to achieve their goals or accomplish their 'jobs to be done' (JTBD). 

User goals or jobs range from tasks like drilling a quarter-inch hole to donating to a nonprofit. Either way, you want a homepage that moves a prospect to your electric drill product page or makes it easy for a donor to send money to your cause.

Design a homepage that speaks to your visitors’ goals and desires with user behavior insights from Hotjar.

Keeping the user-centric purpose of homepage design in mind, you’re ready to tweak, redesign, or build your website from scratch. Start with the small actions that make up each step 👣:

Part I: pre-design

1. Conduct market and customer research

Research is the foundation of web design. For a solid start, combine quantitative and qualitative methods. Gather the numbers from your website and customer analytics tools, and get real stories, experiences, and opinions based on market and behavioral trends. Here are sample sources and metrics for each data type:

  • For quantitative data, check average time on page, bounce rate, conversion rate, devices, top pages, and even purchases (for ecommerce websites)

  • For qualitative data, use online reviews, customer feedback, email surveys, customer support tickets, and user interviews

🍭 Life’s suite when you don’t need to switch

Trawling through data can take all day—something busy product teams, especially designers, can't afford. But what if you could turn this loveless endeavor into the highlight of your day? 

With Hotjar (yes, that’s us 👋), you gain access to a comprehensive suite of behavior analytics solutions that simplify data collection. Take our customizable dashboards, for example, where analyzing your homepage’s numeric data and switching to visual insights won’t feel like work. 

(Hotjar also integrates with quant tools like Google Analytics, for easier data-sharing. 🤝)

If you notice a dip in your homepage traffic, jump straight to related session recordings from within your dashboard. Then, filter the recordings by rage clicks to find elements or areas causing user frustration. It’s an effortless way to spot homepage design issues, fix them before they become serious, and improve UX.

2. Mix and match your data to generate customer insights 

Customer insights are the product of combining market research and customer analytics data. We've mentioned the dashboard example above, enabling you to find issues and enhance UX quickly. Here are a few more ways to apply customer insights to homepage design:

🎯 Goal (what you want to achieve)

🔎 Assessment or analysis (what to look at)

Prioritize homepage features

Which existing features do visitors most frequently use on our homepage?

Increase purchases or sign-ups

How does the homepage design influence conversion rates?

Ensure navigation is smooth and intuitive

How do visitors transition from the homepage to other sections of the website?

Craft engaging, conversion-driven content

What content do users find most valuable on the homepage?

3. Determine your target audience

This part is for product teams who still need to define their target audience. Using the quant + qual approach, you can gradually identify three types of target audience.

Ideal customer profile (ICP)

Picture the perfect customer for your product or service: that's your ICP. It's a primary group, such as a company or organization, that's likely to buy and benefit from your offerings.

💡 Pro tip: launch a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey to nail your ICP. Choose between embedding our two-question poll on your homepage and sending users to an external survey page through a link.

#Hotjar's Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) survey template lets you add open-ended follow-up questions so you can understand the reasons behind users' ratings

Make this NPS survey template yours in minutes with a free Hotjar account

Buyer personas

Buyer personas are broader categories of your ideal customer profile. Once you’ve found your staunch supporters, break it down into two or more user personas: i.e. individual consumer or decision-maker types.

You’ll need

  • Demographic data (e.g. age, location, and job title)

  • Behavioral data (e.g. the path they take on your site, the pages they linger on, and the content they engage with)

  • Campaign data (e.g. conversion pages and sale or lead drivers)

Jobs to be done (JTBD)

While buyer personas categorize your ideal customer profile based on shared characteristics, the JTBD framework segments your ICP based on their desired outcome. That is: what particular job do people 'hire' your product or service for? Going back to our earliest examples, customers could be hiring your electric drill to drill a quarter-inch hole quickly or your donation platform to donate to nonprofits efficiently.

To understand your ICP’s jobs to be done, connect with your ICP using on-page or email surveys and user interviews. Ask about their main goal and their main barrier to achieving that goal. Narrow down common themes and, if you have time, conduct another interview to confirm your ICP’s jobs to be done.

Part II: design

4. Choose a layout that makes sense to your audience

Whether it looks like a jungle, clearing, or anything in between, your layout should work for its intended audience. So, forget about trends and focus on the actual user experience.

For software firm TechSmith, this meant consulting Hotjar Heatmaps to ensure they made correct design decisions. When they saw via click maps that visitors were clicking on product icons instead of call-to-action (CTA) buttons, they made the whole area clickable during a redesign. 

Some worried team members doubted the change. However, another look at heatmaps showed users interacted heavily with the sparse menu layout and image-centric page body, effectively improving their potential customers' experience.

Heatmaps revealed users interacting with all category images after TechSmith initiated a site redesign

5. Create a compelling, unique value proposition (UVP)

Your unique value proposition, or unique selling proposition (USP), should focus on how it solves people’s problems and improves users’ lives. When it appears on your homepage, it must answer the most basic questions, such as

  • Who are you?

  • What do you do?

  • What’s in it for users?

Directly answering this through your copy and visuals shows you empathize with your visitors. Let’s see if Trello, a project management tool, passes the test:

Trello (with a Hotjar integration to boot) doesn’t waste above-the-fold space and talks about user benefits right away

  • What it is: a productivity powerhouse using a simple ‘boards, lists, and cards’ concept

  • What it does: it helps teams collaborate regardless of location

  • What’s in it for users: an easy-use, visual tool that simplifies many workflows like project management, meetings, and task management

Trello’s homepage design checks all the USP criteria. But props to the team for reiterating the simplicity of their boards, lists, and cards using various images above the fold and in the body.

6. Ensure a ‘satisficing’ user experience

Satisficing refers to humans’ capability to make satisfactory or ‘good enough’ decisions rather than perfect ones. 

When doing landing page optimization or content prioritization, remember that users don’t read web pages in a straight line or move from one section to the next. Instead, they go with the first ‘good enough’ option they find. They’re likely to click immediately on a link they spot if it seems to lead to their goal. Users satisfice.

✅ Understand what users really need

Satisficing can make optimization tricky: where do you begin? With Hotjar's AI-powered tool for Surveys, you can set up a survey that asks open-ended or multiple-choice questions, such as

  • What is the main purpose of your visit today?

  • If you could change anything on this page, what would you have us do?

  • Did you find the information you were looking for?

  • Help us choose who will join us in our next podcast episode.

For visual and instant feedback, you could also add the Feedback widget to see exactly the elements users love (or hate) on your homepage.

Web design agency NerdCow enabled the Feedback widget on their site, so visitors can include images in their feedback

7. Keep your content fresh

Besides being user-centric, it’s crucial to keep your homepage search engine-friendly. Understand what drives visitors to your websites via the keywords they use, and perform search engine optimization (SEO) best practices to boost your ranking and visibility.

Check out Hotjar’s homepage, where the people’s needs are front and center, followed by the USP. Right below the fold is a section displaying social proof, building credibility and enticing people to scroll down. When we’re sure the top-billed information has held your attention, we finally outline user-centric solutions, seeing to it that the copy is relevant to what users expect and want.

This homepage information hierarchy presents Hotjar as a credible solutions provider

8. Let your brand personality shine

Ensure branding elements work together and don't distract users. Experts who know how to analyze homepage design will tell you that combining colors, typography, imagery, and other visual elements is pretty potent—it can make people feel emotions like happiness, curiosity, or skepticism. 

Furthermore, strong brands have long-lasting power due to the familiarity, affinity, trust, and excitement they awaken in humans.

#Great Jones’s website, specifically its homepage, reflects the bright hues of the cookware sets it sells—all while keeping its CTAs visible to visitors

Great Jones’s website, specifically its homepage, reflects the bright hues of the cookware sets it sells—all while keeping its CTAs visible to visitors

9. Test and iterate 

Testing is a critical step in homepage and UX design. Whether you’re building your website from the ground up or tweaking some parts of it, ensure you’re testing early. 

After weeks of creating your site, step away from it and allow a fresh perspective to take over. Conduct usability testing with a subset of your target users, observing their behaviors and experiences. This way, you can catch problems and errors before they become too expensive to fix. 

You may run another round of tests to uncover any issues that users did not notice while they were still blocked by the first one.

💡 Pro tip: use Hotjar Engage to conduct usability testing without the hassle. Automatically recruit, schedule, host, and record user interviews or moderated testing sessions. Engage takes care of the legwork, so you can focus on understanding your users’ behavior and empathizing with their experience.

With Engage, you can regularly collect qualitative data to improve your homepage design and deliver a digital experience that customers love

Launch a homepage that instantly connects with users

A human-centered homepage empowers the audience by meeting their needs and expectations. That's why every step of the design process involves an in-depth understanding of users' behavior and empathizing with their experience. 

Indeed, customer insights are just as crucial as aesthetics and functionality when creating a homepage that aims to delight. This applies whether you're implementing a simple tweak or a total website redesign.

Optimize your homepage design with Hotjar

Identify areas where visitors get stuck or lose interest, and make changes that enhance the user experience.

FAQs about website homepage design

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