It’s the early 2000s. I had just been hired at a technology startup, and the website needed a radical overhaul. The look and feel needed to be upgraded and the copy needed to be rewritten.
But the biggest problem I saw was that the focus of the site, and specifically the home page, was all wrong. As the new kid in town, I didn’t want to give the impression that my barrels were ablazin’ and I was looking to shoot down everything in my way, so I came up with the idea of creating a “heat map” of the home page to make my point in a logical and unemotional manner.
Creating the heat map was easy. I took a screen shot of the home page and pasted it into PowerPoint. I then deconstructed the page into a color-coded wireframe by covering each section with a box using the following color scheme:
- Red for company content and links
- Yellow for product/service/technology content and links
- Blue for customer-oriented content and links
- Green for lead generation content and links
You could certainly add more colors if there are other categories that are important to your company.
Adding Customer Focus
Here is the heat map I built of the old home page.
Here is the heat map of the new website that we developed.
Better Lead Generation
This exercise was so eye-opening, I went back and retroactively applied heat maps to the before-and-after versions of other websites I’d (re)built. Here’s another example where the home page was at odds with the company’s goals. The before page below dedicated more than half the real estate to information about the company. But lead generation was our number one goal!
In this next example, I didn’t need a heat map to see that the home page needed a lot of help, but the heat map underscores the problem. Not only did the home page not have any customer-focused content or lead generation opportunities, it didn’t even include any information about the company’s services. It was just a list of business units!
So, go ahead and build a heat map of your home page. It takes just a couple of minutes and you may be surprised by what you see. Compare your heat map to your objectives. If the focus of your home page doesn’t match your objectives, it’s time to re-orient it. Even a few minor tweaks to your home page’s organization and copy can make a difference.