At Gisteo, we work with a lot of start-ups and, over the years, I’ve seen the good, bad and downright ugly when reviewing start-up branding as a whole, including start-up homepages.
Sometimes, as I’ve blogged about before, start-ups will seem to “put the cart before the horse” and spend a lot of energy thinking about the content and style of a video when it’s obvious they haven’t put enough time into thinking about their actual marketplace, target audience or business plan.
In any case, assuming that the proper foundation is indeed in place, there are 5 key elements I think every start-up (or any business for that matter) should consider for their homepages:
- A good logo: Logos communicate both visually (through appearance) and emotionally (through symbolism). Your logo acts as your ambassador to the public and a professionally designed one helps legitimize your business and get you noticed. A surprising number of start-ups we’ve worked with don’t really have a logo or haven’t spent much time or effort into creating a professional one. How can you pour hundreds of hours into designing, coding, brainstorming etc. and have a logo that looks like it was made in Powerpoint? Get on Elance.com or 99Designs.com and get yourself a decent logo at an affordable price.
- Tagline/slogan: In a world of Twitter brevity, information overload and advertising saturation, you need a slogan that helps you stand out from the crowd and break through the clutter. It’s who you are in a nutshell. A slogan may only be a couple of words or a short sentence but, done right, it can speak volumes about your brand and form a truly priceless part of your identity.
- Elevator pitch copy: all the copy on your website is important but that which is on your homepage is even more critical. Are you capable of summing your why you exist in just a few sentences? You should be and a well-written piece of copy that clearly communicates your value proposition is critical.
- Call-to-action button: your homepage should serve as an effective compass, guiding visitors to other areas of the site. Some sort of call-to-action should be included- whether it’s to sign up for an account, download an ebook, contact you for a free consultation, get more information….tell people what you want them to do now that they’ve landed on your website.
- Video: last, but certainly not least, you need overview vide, intro video, explainer video or whatever you want to call them…like the ones we create at Gisteo. Note: if you’ve created a concise video, say 60 or 90 seconds, I always recommend putting that in a text caption somewhere – eg “Learn about us in 60 seconds”. Some people may not be interested in getting roped into what could be a long video but when you make it clear to them that it’s only a 60 or 90 second time investment, they’re more likely to watch. Here are some more pointers on this topic:
Make it entertaining & informative.One without the other probably isn’t worth the investment.
Don’t expect the video to do it all. The video shouldn’t be a “moving brochure” that’s overstuffed with details. It shouldn’t substitute good copy and other content on the page. It should be part of an integrated marketing message and holistic branding effort.
Make it prominent. I’m always surprised when I see home pages with videos that are hard to find and subtly displayed towards the bottom of the page. Make your video easy to see and identify. It’s too valuable of a tool not to showcase it on your site.