Ever since the first radio station website, there have been arguments on what should be included on the homepage. Some believe that everything the station is doing should be included since the homepage address (your domain) is promoted on the radio, the side of your station vehicles, business cards, etc.
Others believe the homepage should be minimal, including only what is necessary. This might include only a single call to action for the most important thing the station is doing that day and a “listen live” button.
The correct answer is between those two mindsets: providing enough content to entice visitors to dive deeper into the website without overwhelming them with too many options. It’s been proven that too little and too much information on your homepage can drive visitors away. Let’s remedy that.
What Should be Included on the Homepage
- A Hero Section: This area is the first thing visitors will see, so it should include the most prominent thing(s) your station is involved with. This might be your biggest contest, a major news story, the latest local sports scores, etc. Decide what you want someone coming to your website fresh to learn about first. As you know, this changes daily, so keep it fresh. Be sure to use eye-catching images and concise text.
- A Prominent “Listen Live” Button: Obviously, right? You want them to listen but remember that you also want them to navigate the website while they listen. So, avoid embedded players. Ensure your player either pops out to its player window or is persistent and continues playing as the visitors navigate the website.
- Newsletter Signup: Include a small, unobtrusive prompt asking visitors to subscribe to the station’s newsletter for updates, contests, etc.
- Sponsors: One of the goals is for your website to generate revenue. Include ad spaces that don’t interfere with the user experience.
- Advertise with Us Link: You may have visitors who are also business owners, so allow them to learn more about growing their business with the help of your radio station.
What Should NOT be Included on the Homepage
- Hero Slider: We talked about the hero section you should include on the home page. This area should never be a slider filled with many items. Sliders have quickly fallen out of favor across the internet in recent years. They typically contain several large images that slow your page down and have been proven ineffective at moving visitors around the website. Most visitors bypass the area as they would a banner ad. If the station has more than one large ticket item to promote, rotate them so that a different item appears to visitors each time they visit the home page.
- Auto-Playing Audio: Anything that plays automatically annoys users and makes them quickly leave the site. Imagine someone in a crowded office visiting your website, forgetting they have the speakers at full volume. That experience can embarrass them, ensuring they never revisit your site. Fortunately, many browsers have disabled auto-playing features – or they mute any auto-playing audio.
- Banner Ad Overload: Too many ads on the homepage can clutter the design and make visitors feel that they’ve landed somewhere they don’t want to be.
- Content Overload: As mentioned before, too many options can overwhelm visitors. Decide what your radio station is most about and include a few items that will entice someone visiting for the first time to dive deeper. If you’re a news station that imports news in several categories, including every category on your homepage is unnecessary. Use analytics to determine what categories your audience is most interested in. Include only those on the homepage since they have been proven to entice visitors to go deeper.
- Social Media Widgets: Social media should be used to attract people to the station’s website. Social media widgets aim to bring them back to the platform. We never want to send them back there once we have them on our platform.
- Welcome Message: Get right to the content that will keep them coming back and nothing they must skip over time after time. Any content needs to go if it doesn’t serve the express purpose of informing or retaining visitors.
- Focus on User Experience: Less is more. Don’t overwhelm your visitors.
- Goal-Oriented Design: Every element should serve your goals for visitor engagement.
- Internal Collaboration: Discuss homepage real estate internally. Decide what serves the listener, not what prevents internal disagreements. Everyone may want their own slide in the slider, but what benefits the listener the most?
- Above the Fold: Place the most important information and CTAs “above the fold” to be visible without scrolling.
- Load Time: Optimize for speed; visitors might leave if the homepage takes too long. Minimize the number of images that appear.
- Clear CTAs: Make it obvious what you want visitors to do (listen, subscribe, read more, etc.)
- Keep it Fresh: A homepage that looks the same day after day isn’t a destination. If you promote the website every day, ensure it’s different and enticing every day.
Pitfalls to Avoid
- Confusing Layout: Users should intuitively understand how to navigate the homepage.
- Mixed Messages: Ensure all headlines and CTAs are cohesive and support the station’s brand and goals.
- Ignoring Analytics: Not tracking how users interact with the homepage can lead to missed opportunities for optimization.
- Overdesign: Too many design elements can be overwhelming and counterproductive.
- Unfocused Goals: Adding elements that may serve SEO or social media goals but don’t help ‘direct traffic’ fulfill a valuable action on the website.
If you’re using social media properly, most visitors enter your website through the side door of the post, contest, event, or page you’ve shared. This doesn’t mean to neglect the front door – your homepage. Many visitors may bookmark it or visit your site for the first time after hearing the address on-air or seeing it on the side of your station vehicle. Ensure that it’s a destination and that visitors are drawn further into your website when they arrive, not leaving with a feeling overwhelmed or wondering why they came.