The Ultimate Guide to Designing a High-Impact D2C Homepage
Aftab Ahmad, Creative Director | January 12 2024
Your website is a critical touchpoint that can shape the customer experience, drive conversions, and ultimately leave a lasting impact on your bottom line.
As an eCommerce store owner, you need to make sure your store’s website user experience is at its peak—and one place we see user experience being neglected the most in eCommerce? The homepage.
Your homepage is one of the first touchpoints your customers have with the brand, so it makes sense to put in the work to make sure it’s conversion-oriented, drives the best customer experience, and leaves a lasting impression on shoppers.
Wondering how to get started? This article is your go-to guide for mastering the art of designing a high-impact direct-to-consumer homepage that prioritizes user experience (UX) to boost conversion rates
1. Use a Responsive Website Design
With the rise of mobile e-commerce, it has become crucial for e-commerce businesses to follow a mobile-first and responsive approach in web development.
In our post-pandemic world, more shoppers are interacting with brands from mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. For example, retail mobile commerce sales in the U.S. exceeded $360 billion in 2021. By 2025, that figure is forecast to grow almost twofold, amounting to approximately $710 billion. In the coming years, e-commerce overall should account for a growing proportion of retail sales in the North American country.
A mobile-first approach means designing a website for smaller screens and then working up towards larger screens. Then, you can create a responsive design which enables on-site elements to automatically adjust and rearrange themselves to fit the screens of different devices. It helps ensure images, text, and other elements always fit properly whether the customer is on their smartphone, tablet, or desktop.
2. Create a Simple and Clear Website Nav
Your website’s navigation is a crucial part of the customer’s user experience and allows users to seamlessly and easily hop around different parts of the site to access information, products, and more.
It’s extremely important to be thoughtful about your site’s navigation and to create a simple, clear, and well-organized nav. A cluttered design can be overwhelming, making it difficult to find the information they are looking for, while a clutter-free menu structure enhances user satisfaction, encourages users to explore and find information quickly and easily.
Here are some helpful hints to creating a clear and intuitive website navigation:
- Logical and Intuitive Categories: Organize your products into clear and logical categories to give users the ability to find information effortlessly.
- Space it Out: The worst thing you can do is over-crowd your menu and overwhelm website visitors with options. Prioritize the most important categories to be prominently displayed at the top of your site.
- Consistency is Key: The navigation menu at the top of your website should be consistent across all pages, giving users a baseline to navigate seamlessly.
- Keep it Simple: Use clear and concise language and avoid using jargon. Ensure that the labels are intuitive (read: obvious) and align with how your customers think about your products.
- Add a Search Bar: Adding a search bar at the top of the homepage is a great way for users to easily navigate to different products, categories, and blog posts. You can also capture that search information on your site to see what relevant and top-of-mind for users is.
- Follow the Shopper's Lead: Extra items in the header should be determined by your visitors’ on-site behavior. Have you noticed people searching for store locations? Are you running a promotion or special program? Look at your website data to determine the most relevant information/content to your target audience.
- Accessibility: Clear site navigation lets everyone, regardless of abilities, use your site and shop for your products. Ensure your site complies with accessibility laws and best practices.
Warby Parker, a direct-to-consumer eyewear company, has a great website navigation. Along with prominently featuring important product categories, the brand highlights a 20% off promotion, store locations, a search bar, an account login, and a shopping cart. Furthermore, the menu is simple and not overly cluttered, which makes it easy for the user to find exactly what they are looking for.
Nike’s mobile site is shown above – the image on the left is before clicking and on the right is after clicking on the menu. They utilize a hamburger menu (the three horizontal lines in the right-hand corner) that expands to allow the shopper to view more. The great thing about the hamburger menu is that it maximizes the site’s real estate. Shoppers can quickly expose and hide a menu to find exactly what they are looking for.
3. Include a Visually Engaging Hero
Most people say, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but that’s not necessarily true when it comes to your website’s hero. If visitors don’t like what they say when they land your page, they’re more likely to leave.
According to a Behavior and informational Technology study, a website has just 0.05 seconds to make a good impression. That’s why it’s incredibly important to have an engaging hero that grabs the user’s attention.
Anything “above-the-fold" is prime real estate for making a good impression. In website design, above-the-fold refers to the section a web page that is visible to the user without scrolling. Any content that is not immediately visible and requires users to scroll is considered below the fold.
Here are some actionable tips for above-the-fold design:
- Develop a Clear Value Proposition: Clearly communicate what your brand offers and use strong, compelling language to highlight the value proposition.
- Include a Call to Action: Ask yourself, ‘what is the most important action I want the visitor to take?” Make sure that call-to-action is featured prominently above-the-fold.
- Use High-Quality Visuals: Visuals should be engaging, relevant, and evoke a positive emotional response. Consider showcasing your best-selling product or lifestyle images that resonate with your target audience.
- Consistent Branding: Maintain a consistent brand identity with colors, fonts, and aesthetics to reinforce brand recognition and create a cohesive visual experience.
- Consider Different Screen Sizes: Remember, not all screens are the same size. Different devices have different screen sizes and resolutions, so a responsive design is imperative.
Caraway, a brand specializing in cookware and home goods, features a prominent, visually striking video header. The header expertly displays an array of kitchen products in action, providing a clear and crisp visual representation of the brand’s offering. Complemented by a clear and concise tagline, “Cleaner Cooking Has Arrived,” the header reinforces its message with precision.
The video header integrates two straightforward call-to-action buttons, inviting users to explore products further. Beyond the product display, the video cleverly taps into emotion, sparking joy and aspiration and creating a memorable connection with the user. Caraway does a great job showcasing the brand’s products and crafts an immersive and compelling experience that resonates with the audience, making a lasting impression.
Peloton, a popular fitness equipment brand, has an impressive video header on its website, too. The engaging video showcases a person working out on their popular exercise bike and pairs it with a strong limited-time offer for two free months of all-access membership with a new bike purchase. The strategically placed call-to-action button, highlighted in a bright green, ensures it grabs the users attention, enticing them to take advantage of the offer.
Don’t be afraid to think out of the box. You can implement a split URL test, testing two designs against each other, to see how it impacts conversions.
4. Create Strong Reasons to Believe (RTB’s)
Content is king and e-commerce brands must create strong reasons to believe (RTB’s) to influence shoppers to act.
Shoppers want to understand the “why” behind choosing your brand. It’s your chance to describe what you do and why it matters.
When crafting your brand’s RTB’s, consider what sets your brand apart from competitors. Instead of generic statements, get specific about your product’s benefits, features, or quality, and use numbers or statistics to quantify the impact.
Since your RTBs are so impactful, you’ll want to be strategic about where this information is placed on the homepage. We recommend they sit high up on the page, ensuring they are among the first elements shoppers see.
In this example from Evernote, a popular note-taking app, their homepage features four compelling reasons to believe, positioned directly under the headline and call-to-action. The copy is not only persuasive, but visually pleasing and easy to understand. We also love that it is paired with a crisp, high-quality image of the product.
At Wellow, a Function Growth owned and operated direct-to-consumer compression sock brand, we carefully selected three reasons to believe and strategically positioned them directly below the header. To make them stand out, we incorporated on-brand icons that visually represent each benefit. The placement, coupled with a striking product header image, effectively associates the RTBs with the product in the shopper’s mind.
5. Reinforce with Testimonials or Social Proof
Social proof is a powerful indicator of trust. You can shout from the mountain tops that your product is the best in the land, but without social proof, shoppers may not believe it. It's human nature to look to the experiences of others to guide our decisions. When potential customers see positive social proof on your homepage, it significantly influences their likelihood to make a purchase.
To reinforce your reasons to believe, include a few of your best short-and-sweet quotes on the homepage. To give the testimonials more credibility, consider adding a name, photo, and location.
Casper nails this on their homepage with glowing testimonials from actual customers. In addition to featuring the testimonial, we love the strong headline that touts over 100,000 5-Star Reviews.
Quip, an oral care company with toothbrushes, flossers, and more, does a great job of featuring testimonials, too. What we love about this testimonial section is that it features real reviews from social media, as you can see the user’s social media handle and profile image under the testimonial. The “10 million mouths and counting” is a nice touch, too.
6. Educate, Educate, Educate
Some brands will not require a ton of education. It's unlikely that products like deodorant, razors, and clothing require a lot of education. Other products may require significant education for consumers to understand their benefits or usage.
For example, 23andMe, a direct-to-consumer DNA testing service will need to educate consumers about genetic information and ease consumer’s minds on privacy concerns. Tech companies and smart home automation systems like Nest, may need to educate the consumer on how their products work and their capabilities.
Education helps a brand stand out in a crowded marketplace by highlighting what makes its products or services unique. Educational videos are a great way to explain the product, its features, and how it addresses the shopper’s needs in an engaging way on the homepage.
Another great way to educate consumers is to include a FAQ section on the homepage. 23andme does this flawlessly by including the six most frequently asked questions towards the bottom of the homepage. If the shopper has scrolled all the way to the bottom of the homepage, it’s likely they have not found what they are looking for, so why not include answers to shopper’s most frequently asked questions?
If your brand falls into the other category of not requiring a ton of education, you want to ensure that your homepage features strategically placed and visually prominent shop buttons in key areas to encourage shoppers to act, as well as great product images in different layouts like carousels.
A primary call-to-action will usually be situated by a hero image, but don’t forget about secondary calls-to-action, too. Secondary CTAs offer additional conversion opportunities for prospects who aren’t interested in your primary objective. They sort of act like a contingency plan, paving another path for visitors who may not be ready to commit. Secondary CTAs are usually found below the fold and guide visitors into the site to learn more.
Key Takeaways: Crafting the Ultimate E-Commerce Homepage
Creating and optimizing a successful conversion-oriented e-commerce homepage requires careful consideration. The approach outlined in this guide is aimed at enhancing user experience, driving conversions, and ultimately positively impacting your bottom line.
When customers reach your homepage, they expect to find relevant information about the product and sift through information quickly and easily. Your job is to create a homepage that provides them with a positive user experience at every step of their journey.
Following these e-commerce homepage best practices will increase the likelihood of shoppers completing a purchase. Want to learn more about boosting conversions? Get in touch with the experts at Function Growth to optimize your website, boost online sales, and overcome challenges at any stage of growth.