If your dog training website came from a design template you found in a DIY website builder, it’s very likely that it’s missing some crucial pieces. Most dog trainers put their finite time and mental energy into helping their clients help their dogs, so figuring out how to supplement an inadequate layout from a website template is understandably very low on the priority list.
But here’s the thing: your homepage is uber important for a number of reasons. It’s the first impression that your potential clients get about you, and in this case, they do judge the book by its cover. In addition to leaving a good aesthetic impression, your homepage should convert leads to clients. It should do this by making it crystal clear what you offer, making it irresistible to explore, and giving a clear path for the next step.
Here are the 5 most critical elements your homepage simply can’t afford to miss.
1. An Eye-Catching, Descriptive Header
Studies have shown that you have 3 seconds to capture your visitor’s attention and keep them on your site. And your header is your opportunity to do that. There are 3 components that make for an effective header:
A beautiful, relevant image: For the most part, people are visual. They need something eye-catching to grab their attention and prompt them to dig in a bit deeper. This could be a stellar stock image (no cheesy smiling ladies with Golden Retrievers on a white background, please!) or a professional photo of you. It should have a nice balance of colors and composition.
A clear and concise headline: This is where you tell your visitors exactly what you offer.
A subheading that describes further what you offer. You want to avoid jargon here and speak directly to what owners want: results.
Here is a great example from All Dogs Go To Kevin:
Here is where you communicate to your clients why they want to work with you. What sets you apart from the competition? Why should they choose you over the very enticing “free consults” that some of the other local dog trainers with less education and credentials offer?
Keep it short and simple. Use owner-friendly language. Break it up visually so that it’s easy to digest. Here’s another example from ADGTK:
Your potential customers probably aren’t ready to buy just yet, but you’ve intrigued them with the header and benefits block. The next portion should be the specific categories of services you offer, and the calls to action are simply to “learn more.” This gives them a clear path to explore the other pages of your site that are relevant to the problems they’re facing.
Remember to categorize your services in terms of case types, rather than service types. Visitors often don’t know if they need private training, group classes or virtual training, but they do know that their dog needs manners, for example. So bring them to a Manners page that includes all the offerings for that category.
Another example from ADGTK. (Forgive me if I'm playing favorites, but this is my husband's business and I designed the homepage with intention.):
4. Social Proof
Testimonials build trust from the start and impart a sense of authority. Keep them brief, and choose blurbs that focus on results rather than how wonderful you are. The testimonials game is fraught with fake reviews and incentivizing. Language about how your programs have impacted the lives of actual dogs gives your testimonials a sense of authenticity that will set you apart.
Here is an excellent example from JW Dog Training:
5. Contact form
I strongly encourage you to include a contact form at the bottom of your homepage (even if you have a separate contact page). When clients get to the end, they should have an immediate way to ask questions if they didn’t get all the answers they were looking for. This is valuable info that can illuminate where your homepage might be lacking. It also positions you as open, responsive and there to serve your clients.
Questions about how to incorporate these elements into your site? Post them in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you.