The most important page on your web site is the home page. You only get one chance to make a great first impression. If you have an appealing site, visitors will stay around to read, shop, or do whatever you want them to do at your site. If your site looks boring or confusing, people will quickly go elsewhere – and not come back.

You can tell the type of impression you are making by looking at your site’s bounce rate, which can represent how many people simply look at the home page and go elsewhere. The higher the bounce rate percentage, the more work you may need to do on your website’s home page.

We talked with Shannon Palme, a web designer, about some of the biggest mistakes people make with their home page. Here’s what she said:

  • No explanation of what the page is about: If somebody cannot understand what the home page represents, then they are going to go elsewhere. Somebody looking at the page for just a second or two should be able to figure out immediately what the page is about.
  • Too much content: A homepage should be an introduction to your web site. It shouldn’t contain too much detailed information. Too much text may overwhelm visitors.
  • Autoplaying audio and video: There’s nothing that will drive a visitor away like a noisy video or audio bite that starts playing instantly on page load, especially if they are at work. Give your visitors the opportunity to choose whether they want to watch or listen to this content.
  • Large images: While images are fantastic for drawing attention to your page, large graphics should be avoided if possible. The general rule of thumb is to keep each page under 100kb, which will ensure that the site loads quickly even on mobile networks.
  • Too many links: Sure, there should be a certain number of links on your home page to other pages on your site, but you don’t want to have too many links. Chances are if you’ve started to worry if there are too many links on your homepage, you’ve already gone way overboard.

Finally, Palme, who works for Blue Fly Web Marketing, says that it important to test your site on a variety of platforms and make sure that you make a positive impression on readers, no matter what platform they will be using to look at your site.

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Lisa Swan writes for a variety of computing and coaching websites.

5 Things You Must Not Do On Your Home Page