A checklist of 13 things required for your website homepage

A long time ago I used to maintain checklists for various stages of projects. I used to think I had them all memorized, but over time I’ve missed a few things and had to go back and shoehorn stuff in.

Now I’m getting back to checklists and I thought I’d share this one. It’s an update for my 13 things required for your website homepage, based on classic rules of advertising:

1. A Headline
Headlines don’t have to be short or extra long, they just have to be good. What makes a good headline? Anything that uses facts, solid specific numbers (so $24.95 instead of “under $30”), and answers a solid question. Some might lean towards clickbait, but I don’t.

2. A sub-headline
This can be useful for pumping in a few keywords, but I err on the side of making it more for humans than bots. If it works for both, then great.

3. Explanation of Benefits
Why are you better than your competitors? Lower price? Better service (and how?), bigger clients?

4. Call-to-Action
What do you want people to do? Download a file? Subscribe to an email list? Buy a product? Give people clear directions on what they should do and why.

5. Secondary Call-to-Action
Like a sub-heading, this may be more of a supplement than a complement, but could also be a second-best choice for a customer action. Like singing up for an email list if they don’t want to buy a product.

6. Trust Indicator
This one’s tricky, but you have to find a way to show the audience you’re trustworthy. This could be as simple as a good photo of you, or a video talking at an event.

7. Success Indicator
If you have any awards or special kudos, show them. Sometimes they aren’t worth much, but at the very least they help build some goodwill and trust.

8. Navigation on all screen sizes
Does the navigation fit and work well on every size display from desktop to mobile? If not, fix it.

9. Supporting images
Aside from a photo or image of yourself, show a photo of your product or some graphical representation of your service. People are visual.

10. Show you offer a value
People don’t necessarily want cheap, they want value and a bargain. So give people something to make sure they get that Black Friday 90% Off Sale Feeling. Either a really useful blog or a free download.

11. Reasons to buy (or hire)
You never buy almost nothing unseen or unheard, so don’t expect your visitors to come barreling down with money. Give them reasons to buy or hire or view or whatever your reason for being is. This may include customer reviews, testimonials that are actually real, Yelp reviews, or other cross-checked sources like news articles and third party links.

12. Facts
List as many facts and features about your service or product that you can. This may be something like, “Fastest widget in the industry”, but be more specific, like, “3 minutes faster than any other widget in the industry.”

13. Solid meta data
Meta keywords are useless today and of no SEO value. But good Meta Descriptions and Titles are good for Google and very good for humans. So make sure if you don’t do them on any other page, you at least do it on the homepage. Specific, but short, page titles under 66 characters are best. Limit yourself to about a tweet’s worth of text for your page meta description. This can also include a nifty favicon, just for the sake of a little extra visual polish, too.

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Photo of Justin Harter


Justin has been around the Internet long enough to remember when people started saying “content is king”.

He has worked for some of Indiana’s largest companies, state government, taught college-level courses, and about 1.1M people see his work every year.

You’ll probably see him around Indianapolis on a bicycle.

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