5 Important Optimizations Your eCommerce Homepage Needs
There are many details to consider when optimizing your ecommerce homepage, not the least of which is making sure it ranks well in Google. But although making search engines happy is important, your homepage optimization also needs to focus on making humans happy. Optimizing a large ecommerce website plays a crucial role in motivating human visitors to stick around, browse, and ultimately buy from you. It’s like the virtual front door of your online store, and ecommerce upgrades focused on streamlined homepage experiences can significantly enhance user engagement and boost conversion rates.
Below, we cover five fundamental areas where targeted home page ecommerce optimization improves the experience that shoppers have on your website while directly contributing to website performance. Optimizing your home page isn’t just about aesthetics—though visual elements obviously play an important role. It’s also about functionality, strategic design, and incorporating features that build trust.
The tips provided below are all actionable and fairly easy to implement. They’re best practices focused on providing immediate value whether you’re an ecommerce newcomer or a seasoned industry professional.
Why focus on optimizing your homepage?
A well-optimized homepage does triple duty when it comes to increasing sales. It motivates customers to stick around and explore, but also encourages them to act and, importantly, it fosters loyalty. Ecommerce merchandising techniques like personalizing offers and content, showcasing your best products (e.g., product curation) have a direct impact on your website’s conversion rate.
It takes your website visitors a split second (specifically, 0.05 seconds) to decide if they love your website or hate it. Your home page plays an important role in that first impression by instilling trust, fostering connection, and presenting the right content to each user in the context of their individual shopping journey.
5 Key Areas to Optimize on Your eCommerce Homepage
We’re about to delve into the specific elements and capabilities that elevate an eCommerce homepage from functional to phenomenal. We’ll address intuitive navigation that simplifies the shopping journey, the importance of strategically placed graphics, and why superior search functionality is critical.
Compelling imagery and clear calls-to-action work in concert to captivate and convert. We’ll also discuss the subtle art of building trust, the need to incorporate clear calls-to-action, and the importance of speed. Your home page should load quickly on mobile and desktop devices, at least if you want people to stick around long enough to buy something. Each of these below tips focuses on helping you nail that critical first impression.
1. Streamline Your Navigation
The goal with effective navigation is to make your website as accessible and user-friendly as possible. That requires focusing on efficiency, accessibility, and clarity. Here’s how to achieve this:
Be a good tour guide
Keep your website navigation clear, use contrasting text and background colors, and make sure your layout, functionality, and design work across all devices. Test, test, test your navigation across different screens, devices, and operating systems. Then test it again.
You’ll want to eliminate roadblocks and clear the path for shoppers to move through your website without friction. Also consider how your primary navigation, sub navigation elements, and horizontal navigation bars work together to guide people to the right places.
Include expected icons and elements, the stuff that shoppers are used to seeing—a shopping cart, a hamburger menu (those three lines typically located at the top left of a page), and obvious product categories like Women, Men, Infants, etc. These familiar cues help users intuitively understand how to navigate your site.
Don’t overdo it with navigational elements. Too many bits and pieces make navigating any website confusing. To shoppers, a page with lots of options can feel cluttered and overwhelming, particularly if there are popups, banners, and sliders vying for the user’s attention (we’re looking at you, Old Navy). Make sure to put things like hamburger menus in places that users are used to seeing (e.g., in the top left corner of the home page.)
Focus on clarity
Navigation labels are a minimalist art form. Keep them descriptive and straightforward and easily skimmable. Labels can be used to guide folks to places you want them to notice, like seasonally-specific shopping pages (e.g., Holiday Pajamas, Black Friday Deals, etc.) This helps users understand their options while eliminating guesswork. The goal is to get people into active-shopping mode as quickly as possible.
Keep the navigation the same on all pages of your website – this includes what the labels say, but also the position of the navigation bar itself. Avoid making frequent changes to the primary navigation. Changing things up too much can confuse returning visitors.
The order of navigational elements matters too. Primacy and recency (first and last words in a list) stand out most, grab users’ attention, and help shoppers stay oriented. To this end, think about where users tend to navigate most (e.g., account info, sales, home page) and place your most important links in these locations.
- Mobile-ize your navigation
Mobile-friendly navigation is critical – and we do mean critical – to driving ecommerce sales. According to Statista, mobile commerce (mCommerce) sales will hit around $2.2 trillion globally this year. Mobile-friendly navigation relies on that hamburger menu we mentioned above which helps you accommodate many different categories in a small surface area (e.g., a smartphone screen), an easily accessible search bar, and bold text with a contrasting background.
2. Prioritize Search Functionality
A good search function is the gateway to great user experience. You should position the search field outside of the navigation menu, making it immediately accessible (and visible) to the nearly 79% of visitors who go directly to a retailer’s search bar when visiting their eCommerce website.
Bad search functionality is bad news, since about 80% of customers will leave a retailer’s website after a poor search experience. A good search experience, at its core, ties search results to relevance. Consumers use the search bar to find products, but also compare prices, and get important information about store policies, shipping information, and more. Shoppers should be able to refine search results with appropriate filters and see similar products versus “no results” pages or out-of-stock items.
3. Enhance Visual Appeal with a Strong Hero Section
The hero section of your home page is the central image and text that a visitor sees upon arrival. It’s above the fold and directly below the primary horizontal navigation bar. Think of it as a digital storefront window display – prime real estate that should be both visually arresting and strategically functional. Here are some tips for optimizing what is arguably the most impactful area of your eCommerce website:
- Connect imagery with purpose: Use high-quality, captivating images and videos that convey your brand identity and resonate with shoppers. This isn’t about displaying eye candy, though you absolutely need to use beautiful, professional images. The visuals in your hero section are powerful storytelling tools that evoke emotion and desire.
- Write headlines that hook: Your headlines should be descriptive and spark curiosity. The ideal headline resonates with your audience’s needs (e.g., “Shop early to save on the hottest holiday deals or “Get them everything on their list.”) The headline should include a call-to-action (CTA) – shop early, get everything, score today’s deal, serve up the perfect dinner, etc.
- Call people to action: Speaking of CTAs, your hero section should always include a clear, compelling call-to-action. This could be anything from ‘Shop Now’ to ‘Discover More’. CTAs should also stand out visually and be placed intuitively. CTA text guides shoppers to the most compelling corners of your website, getting them to next step in their journey.
4. Ensure Contact Information Visibility
Accessible contact information builds trust with visitors. Contact information should be placed in high-visibility areas like the top of the page or the footer. It provides a clear path for shoppers to get in touch.
Incorporating multi-channel support options with different customer contact channels like social media, text messaging, email, phone, and chat ensures you’re covering all bases. Some customers prefer the immediacy of a phone call, while others might opt for email or a contact form. AI-powered chatbots often help customers resolve common or simple issues on their own, freeing up service agents do deal with more complex problems.
5. Optimize Page Speed for User Retention
Quick-loading websites prevent shoppers from bouncing away to a competitor’s (faster loading) website. There’s a direct link between site speed and sales, with a one-second delay in page load time producing a 7% decrease in conversions. And while user experience is improved when a website loads quickly, it’s also incredibly important for search engine rankings.
You should focus on optimizing mobile and desktop speeds, since over half of web traffic comes from mobile devices. Resources like Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool offer valuable feedback about your site’s performance across devices and can help inform your page speed optimization approach.
Implementing Your Optimization Strategy
Optimization isn’t about guesswork. It requires a deliberate and careful approach of trial and error, with A/B testing at its core. Personalization platforms like Monetate allow retailers to scientifically evaluate the impact of homepage changes and make modifications based on informed analyses.
Running an A/B test lets you compare the performance of your homepage with and without a given feature, image, function, or text element. Testing ensures that you’re making data-driven decisions. It provides context and understanding around what resonates with your audience, so you can optimize your homepage armed with real knowledge.
Your goal should always be to enhance user experience and engagement versus arbitrarily adding features because they’re trendy. So, test thoughtfully and analyze the results before you implement a given change across your site.
Evolving With eCommerce Trends
Customer behavior and preferences change, making the perfect ecommerce website a moving target. Accommodating trends and changing customer expectations requires you to embrace change and build flexible, scalable solutions that leverage the right technology.
At the top of the “emerging trends” list is a focus on crafting personalized shopping experiences. This trend is reshaping how retailers approach ecommerce merchandising and digital product placement. By tailoring the shopping journey to individual preferences, Monetate helps retailers create a more engaging and satisfying experience for digital shoppers.
Another important ecommerce trend is personalized product recommendations. The effective curation and recommendation of products is as much about showcasing the right items as it is about understanding and anticipating customer needs. Presenting customers with choices that feel almost handpicked, and doing this at scale, involves data, technology, and planning. Incorporating these strategies effectively requires ongoing experimentation and adaptation.
Beyond eCommerce Homepage Best Practices
Optimizing your homepage should be part of a broad, site-wide ecommerce optimization initiative that considers the entire shopping experience. This includes product pages, informational pages like your blog and FAQ, and of course your shopping cart and checkout pages.
Monetate has a wealth of knowledge about personalization, A/B testing, and the benefits an ecommerce recommendation engine offers when it comes to engaging shoppers and orchestrating the digital retail journey. Schedule a demo if you’re ready to level up your ecommerce homepage experience.