When thinking about the purpose of exceptional web design, most marketers and business leaders prioritize one of these two things. On the one hand, they want to do whatever it takes to generate leads and accomplish sales. On the other hand, they simply want to be better than the competition.
But the thing about your site – your homepage, in particular – is that it doesn’t just serve these two purposes. It also plays a crucial role in differentiating your business from everyone else in your niche.
By investing in a distinctive homepage design, you aren’t just working to outperform your competitors. Perhaps more importantly, you’re finding ways to position your products or services as a unique solution to consumer problems. You’re actively working to convey messages that resonate with your target audience.
So, if you’re looking to differentiate your brand with a killer homepage, this is how you can do it.
Lead with your brand values
Connecting over your brand values is the best way to appeal to people looking for solutions in your niche.
According to the 2020 Zeno Strength of Purpose Study, consumers are four to six times more likely to trust, buy, champion, and protect brands with a clearly communicated purpose. And what better way to broadcast your brand’s purpose than by being clear about what you stand for and what you want to achieve with your products?
Check out the Future Kind homepage for a fantastic example. Notice how easily this company manages to communicate its brand purpose and values. It achieves this just by including the words “clean,” “sustainable,” and “vegan” on its website’s hero section.
For a slightly different approach, check out Sonos.
This brand’s strategy is to communicate its brand values by describing how they affect product design. So, the phrases that Sonos includes on its homepage are “astonishingly clear,” “expertly tuned,” and “beautifully balanced.” Each one calls attention to the quality-oriented, innovative design that is behind every single one of the speakers it sells.
Communicate in your brand’s voice
Another super-effective way to differentiate your brand with a killer homepage is to consistently use your brand’s unique voice.
In addition to making your copy (and visuals) reflect your organization’s identity, value, and mission, your voice will also set the tone for all future communication with your potential clients. This means that it can do even more than help you appeal to your audience. Your brand’s voice can also effectively set and manage consumer expectations and help set you apart from similar solutions.
Think of Slack, for example. Looking at its homepage, you’ll immediately see how this brand uses a distinct tone to empower and educate visitors. All the while, Slack is coming off as a friendly mentor.
Or, if that doesn’t look and sound unique enough, check out Lyft. By inviting web visitors to “Ride. Bike. Scoot. Go bananas,” it’s showing just how much more laid-back and versatile it is from other ride-hailing companies.
Don’t forget that your voice isn’t just communicated through copy, but through visuals too. So don’t hesitate to enrich your website with imagery that’s 100% you. Whether that means showing off your products, your employees, or your mascot (like Duolingo) is entirely up to you.
Hit one value proposition. Hard.
It may sound like a dream to be the ultimate solution to all your audience’s needs. Nonetheless, chances are, you can’t actually do everything perfectly, which is precisely why, on your homepage, you have to identify and emphasize that one thing you do better than everyone else.
By hitting one value proposition hard on your website, the effect you get isn’t just differentiating your brand. More than that, you stand to establish your brand’s identity – as authoritative, trustworthy, or value-oriented – based on your most precious unique value proposition.
Think about the strategy along these lines. When you mention too many features (or benefits) on your homepage, chances are, web visitors are going to forget about them by the time they reach the bottom of the page. However, by avoiding the common mistake, you can drive the message home and leave your audience knowing exactly why they should invest in your products/services.
For a great example of a brand hitting a value proposition, check out Aura. This SaaS company sells an Amazon repricing software that utilizes AI and machine learning to help users win the Buy Box. And knowing how important winning that coveted position is to sellers, Aura mentions this one benefit a total of 10(!) times on its homepage.
Is it overkill? Absolutely not. It’s the perfect way to ensure that even those visitors who walk away without converting leave with a permanent association between Aura’s software and securing Amazon’s Buy Box.
Make your promises specific & realistic
How many times do you roll your eyes whenever a smartphone manufacturer introduces their latest flagship as the “best smartphone ever made?”
Sure, the language you use on your homepage indeed needs to be sales-oriented. Moreover, the promises you make should be impressive if you want to elicit a positive reaction (and ensure that your web visitors remember you). But, in absolutely no way should you allow the hype to take over from specific and realistic promises on your website.
Instead of overpromising and underdelivering, try differentiating yourself by showing data that supports your claims.
Zapier does this really well in the integrations section of its homepage.
Knowing that the promise of 3000+ apps sounds too vague, this brand decided to include a search function on its homepage, allowing visitors to instantly check whether their preferred apps work with Zapier’s software solution.
Of course, there are more traditional ways to make sales claims. But, when showing impressive numbers and best-case scenarios, don’t forget to keep things real. Take a look at how Mailchimp does it on their homepage below.
Shine a spotlight on your products
The thing about running a business or selling online courses on online course platforms in an internet-savvy society is that, most likely, you’re not the only brand doing what you do in the world. For this reason, you must do everything you can to point out the things only you can provide your target audience.
Sometimes, this will include emphasizing the products that you alone sell.
The MR PORTER website does this well enough with an “Exclusive to MR PORTER” section in its navigation menu.
For an even better example of how you can differentiate your brand with web design, take a look at Spores. The brand ingeniously advertises its most valuable non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on its homepage.
Calling attention to the fact that its upcoming SporesxNtvrk presale is time-limited and exclusive to those who pre-register, the brand effectively leaves web visitors with the knowledge that its website is the only place they can get the digital products in question.
Plus, it’s using a healthy dose of FOMO, which is one of the best ways to utilize emotional marketing on a homepage.
Speak directly to your target audience
Last but not least, if you want to convince your web visitors that you’re the absolute best choice for their needs, why not help them see themselves in the role of your client?
By structuring your website around your clients as heroes, you can differentiate yourself from competing brands whose marketing relies on more traditional forms of social proof.
Examples like the one from Freshdesk show how effectively you can utilize customer stories to communicate brand values, product benefits, and unique sales propositions.
(c) If you can find ways to speak even more directly to your target audience, don’t hesitate to do so.
For a great illustration of a business that nails speaking to its target audience, take a look at Skillcrush. The brand combines social proof with UGC to paint a picture of what its future students can expect.
Your brand’s website is its digital calling card. It’s your one chance to leave a positive first impression on your target audience. With that in mind, investing in a killer design should be a no-brainer.
But as you approach the design process and think about the elements you want to include on your site, don’t forget that there’s more to homepage appearance than aesthetics.
Yes, first impressions are 94% design-related. But remember that how you approach your target audience, how you speak to them, how you present your products, and how you describe your business all contribute to your brand’s identity.
So don’t miss the chance to present your company in the best possible light. Use your homepage to show how unique you are.