I’ve seen some terrible home pages in my time. Home pages that don’t give two hoots about the visitor and why the visitor has come to the website.
In November I looked at the user-friendliness of websites in more general terms, looking at how to engage readers and make sure the hierarchy of information is right. Today I’m looking specifically at making sure your home page is spot-on.
Remember – it’s not an about us page
The about us page is a very different kind of web page. It’s the one that sets out exactly what the company does and offers some background about its values and history. But I’ve seen home pages that think they’re about us pages, reeling off a narrative about how the company started and what it’s achieved.
An easy way of not doing this is to remember that a home page is actually the exact opposite. It’s not “about us”. It’s not about your company. It’s “about your visitor”. The home page should be visitor-focussed and address your visitors’ needs and questions right from the opening line.
Think about it. Someone has clicked on your website because they need/want something. The home page is the first page they will see. When writing your home page, you need to keep that in mind at all times. Knowing about your company’s humble beginnings is not something your visitor cares about at this point.
Think about what questions a visitor might have and answer them. You might even want to ask these questions in the copy, so that you can make it clear from the outset that you are thinking about what your visitor wants.
- Are you reaching your customers?
- Are you engaging them – and engaging with them?
- Are you keeping them?
I then go on to explain how hiring me can address those needs.
Don’t go into too much detail
Your home page is not the place to go into loads of detail about specific offers, products or, as I said before, the company history. Your home page should be an introduction. It should contain only a general overview of what your company does and how it can help the person who has clicked on the page. It should entice the reader to click through to further pages to find out more about how the service works, or find out what products are on offer.
I’ve seen home pages that bombard the visitor with very detailed information before they are even sure they’re in the right place. They will read long sections of information, only to realise at the end that the company is not what they’re looking for. Annoying, huh?
Remember, your home page needs to answer your visitors’ questions, confirm that they are in the right place, and then give clear options on how to find what else they’re looking for.
One way of making sure you do this is to write your about us pages, services pages and product category pages first. Leave the home page till last and imagine it as an introduction to and a summary of all those other pages (and don’t forget to link to said pages throughout your home page text).
Keep your home page clear, succinct and easy to read
I’ve also seen home pages that are so horribly laid out that you just can’t bear to read them. Home pages with long, complex sentences and morbidly obese paragraphs all bunched together. Oh, and grammar errors. As a writer, grammar errors really sting, but for anyone else, they just give the impression that the company is unprofessional and a bit slapdash.
These problems are easily fixed:
- Keep your sentences short and simple. This is essential when you’re writing for the web.
- Keep your home page paragraphs short, no longer than 6 lines.
- Use subheadings, images and bullet points to break up the text and make it more readable.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread!
If you think your home page could use some rewriting or polishing, get in touch with me on 07411 331721 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I offer very affordable rates and I’ve written for a wide array of websites. My experience ranges from writing a whole new website from scratch, to proofreading and touching up a client’s existing copy.
Plus, I can also do a review of the main pages of your website for the low price of £30 to see if you actually need a rewrite. I will provide a short report (up to 300 words) on how your website might be improved, with a list of problems and solutions. If you’re interested, please contact me.
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