The point of the homepage is that it is the default place for someone to arrive at; and what that really means is we know very little about the person behind that interaction.
Typically the users eye (in western culture) while scan the page from top left to bottom right, making those two locations the most important on any page, however while the Top Left is always the top left, the bottom right moves around depending on the screen size, so to get specific we are talking about the Bottom Left when the page is first loaded, which is called above the fold (a carry over from newspaper print).
It sounds real boring, but we put the branding (logo) in the top corner because that is the most important thing, and we try and place are Primary Offer just above the fold. Often we will use a sidebar on the right to help draw even more attention to this area of the page, typically filling it with offers (products, services, events) above the primary offer, and below the fold we continue with testimonials, faq and associations which are working to build our reputation.
It still needs to follow the RulesForEveryPage.
Ideally, people are linking deeper into the website and skipping ahead to what they are interested in when they first come. If they arrive at the homepage they have probably typed your website address in (because they remember you based on the branding) and they are trying to get back to where they were.
The goal with the homepage is to quickly convey the breadth of products and services you offer so they can quickly be directed to a TargetedLandingPage. To that ends we typically have a carousel slider with big images and simple text that rotates around quickly. A user is unlikely to spend more then 10 seconds on the pages, so we need to grab their interested. Below that we have three boxes to put forth different problems you solve, which again is leading to a TargetedLandingPage.
We follow that up with a recent BlogPost, which is to ensure to the customer that the company still has a pulse and active customer support. This also ensure the page changes regularly so that Google and other search engines continue to crawl the website regularly.
“I LOVE MY WEBSITE. The website looks amazing and up to date. I cannot thank you enough. Awesome job.” -Dorothy Briggs