Your website’s homepage is often the first point of contact a client or customer has with your brand. They might also choose to browse, but that first impression will remain embedded in their psyche. On the other hand, if your homepage offers nothing they are looking for, they might just as easily click off and never be seen again.
Luckily, there are various ways to inject some interest into your homepage. In this post, we’ll talk about two very effective homepage features: video and animations. Read on to learn how and why you should be adding them to your homepage.
A Case for the Moving Picture
We all know that video is more popular than text. However, this stat mainly takes into account the popularity of vlogs – as opposed to blogs – and the immense amount of time we spend on YouTube. That means it’s not necessarily applicable to the world of web design and digital marketing.
What we also know is that video makes for a much more interesting user experience. Instead of taking in a static image or facing a wall of text, visitors maintain focus more easily with video.
Given the obvious fact that video is dynamic, it will instantly draw the eye in and prove to be more memorable than a flat page hero.
Video also allows you to communicate your value proposition much quicker. The visitor does not have to read a single word. If you are in the business of selling products, you are able to show the product and provide more valuable information within seconds. Service industries can also benefit from homepage videos. They’ll just have to be clever when it comes to coming up with a straightforward way of showcasing their value.
Finally, video allows you to make a much bigger emotional impact on your website visitors. There are countless layers to video communication. It’s often so much more about the things you don’t show and perhaps only imply than what you actually feature. This enables you to establish a deeper connection with your audience on a more meaningful level. Ultimately, that means upping your chances of conversion.
There’s a catch, however. When you don’t use video correctly (i.e., when it’s not filmed and optimized properly), you risk bloating your storage and slowing down your loading times to the point of utter frustration. Mobile users also won’t be getting the same experience as desktop users, so bear that in mind as well.
In other words: if you choose to incorporate video or animation anywhere on your website (but especially on your homepage), make sure you consider all the tech aspects as well. Don’t just focus on the aesthetics.
Different Types of Moving Content
There are several ways you can incorporate animation and interactivity into your homepage. You can choose the type of content that will work best depending on factors such as:
- your target audience
- server capabilities
- the message you’re trying to communicate
Simple CSS Effects
CSS allows you to animate practically anything. You have to be careful and avoid the slippery slope of trying to add a different effect to every element of your homepage. That choice can not only be distracting but also cause some serious loading time issues. All in all, refrain from going overboard with the animation.
Your goal in using CSS animation is to draw a visitor’s eye to a specific element on the website (a call to action, for example), help them navigate the website, and enjoy their experience with you.
You can achieve this by using some of the following:
- Sliders for photographs, products, or navigation elements
- Hover effects on buttons
- Text fading in or out
- Animating menus
- Welcome messages that fade in or out
- Transitional animations on images, boxes, etc.
The list doesn’t end here, and you can take it as far and wide as your coding abilities allow. Again, bear in mind that not all effects will be accessible on mobile devices. Make sure you edit them out on the mobile version so as not to slow it down.
A good example of the use of CSS animation is Art4Web. They’ve found just the right balance between making their homepage very dynamic and not overwhelming their visitors with too much of a good thing.
Videos are a more costly endeavor, although they can still be produced well even without an immense budget.
The main consideration when using video is the goal you are trying to achieve. It needs to serve a specific purpose if you want it to help you convert visitors.
For instance, you can:
- Create a video that will help your audience learn more about the company’s story – help them connect with you on a human level.
- Make an instructional video – showcase the best way to use your product or service.
- Make a testimonial video – rely on social proof to establish trust.
Select one goal and aim to design your video around it. Trying to stuff it with too much information will most likely backfire.
You can also use animated videos, as Mixam does. They explain the best ways to use their service using an illustrative video instead of real-life footage. They’ve also chosen to feature it below the fold, giving their audience the choice of playing it only if they are interested.
GIFs are mini-videos, incredibly popular on social media and in messaging apps. By using them on your homepage, you can show your target audience that you share their humor and love of popular culture. Or you can simply show that you are more than a faceless brand.
Plus, you can also just make them laugh.
There are all kinds of GIFs out there, from reactionary to illustrations and cartoons. Whether you choose to create your own or reach into the vast digital library of GIFs, make sure, once again, that they are optimized and that you are not infringing any copyrights.
Finally, you can also use more complex animations on your homepage to illustrate a point, explain a complex process or idea, or simply make your page more dynamic and eventful.
Animations are sometimes more effective than video, as they can be stripped of superfluous information, making them easier to digest. As a vessel whose purpose is to convey one simple message, they can also be pretty lightweight and allow for faster page loading times.
The animation style you choose will entirely depend on your audience and your branding. Make sure you consider both when coming up with animation storylines. An out-of-tune animation will not be as effective.
Mailmunch has a neat animation above the fold. It serves to highlight the benefits of using their service, plus makes the page much more engaging. It may be simple, but it’s also memorable and well-executed, which is all you can ask for from an animation.
Using animation and video on your homepage can help you capture the attention of your audience and establish a deeper connection with them.
Just bear in mind that you should always align your moving content with a specific goal. Design it with a specific purpose in mind and ensure it doesn’t slow your page right down.