Secrets of writing a business website homepage
Think you know how to write a business website homepage?
Read this article to make sure.
You probably think you already know what a homepage is. But if you’re
like many business website owners, you really don’t. The homepages
of many business websites are suffering an identity crisis. They're trying
to do the job of several web pages, and doing none of those jobs well.
What a Business Website Homepage is Not:
* A homepage is not the place to dump a long description of your business.
That’s for the “about us” or “company information”
page. On the homepage, this information will just bore most people.
* A homepage is not the place where you list and sell all your products
(unless you only have one or two). You should have a special products
and services page for that, and preferably a shopping cart or catalog.
Trying to make people buy right on your homepage is a little pushy. The
homepage will also get over-crowded as your offerings expand. Instead,
just include a list of product categories with links to inside pages,
along with direct links to your biggest sellers.
* A homepage is not the place to include the full text of your announcements
and press releases. Just include a teaser paragraph of each article on
the homepage, with a link to the web page with the full text. If people
want to read the full text, they can. If they don’t, you haven’t
bored them to tears.
* A homepage is not your company president’s or owner’s personal
blog. It’s OK to rant, rave, or preach the need for world peace.
Just don’t do it on wesellwidgets.com
As you’ve probably noticed, a good website has multiple pages.
You should have special web pages for special topics: an “about
us” page for company information, a products and services catalog,
the president’s blog, etc. When you advertise or send out links
to your site, you should link directly to the most appropriate page, rather
than just the homepage. Of course, that doesn’t mean you don’t
need a homepage, just that you don’t need it to do every single
thing you want your website to accomplish.
Quick Guide to Writing a Business Website Homepage
Important Points to Consider
Your business website’s homepage must be all things to all the
people who type your URL in their navigation bar, whether it’s their
six-hundredth visit or whether they just happened to catch your web address
painted on the back of your car.
For the benefit of new visitors, a homepage must provide a snapshot of
who you are and what visitors can do on your website. Your first one to
three paragraphs should give a quick overview of what visitors can do
on your site. For example, you could include a short paragraph each on
“buy widgets,” “learn more about widgets,” and
“meet other widget enthusiasts,” with links to your shopping
cart, informational articles, and message board, respectively.
For returning visitors, the homepage must serve as a touchstone for navigating
the site, announcing new developments and pointing out especially popular
or useful pages. For these visitors you don’t have to write anything
new especially for your homepage. Anyone who's coming back to your site
is already interested and is going to want to jump right into the deeper
pages of your site, rather than linger on the homepage wondering whether
it's worth their time.
That's why your homepage should include teasers for the inside pages
of your site. For instance, you could have a tip of the week, linked to
a web page on your site with an article explaining it. Good navigation
(list of links to the four to eight most essential web pages on your site)
is also a must.
For both new and returning visitors, always give a prominent place to
a featured product or service (or two or three) with a picture, one or
two-sentence description, and a link to its own web page or its place
in your "products and services page," catalog or shopping cart.
You should also always feature a satisfied customer. It's great if the
satisfied customer can send you a picture of himself or herself. But no
matter what, always include a testimonial quotation, and a link to a case
study or customer story on its own web page, which you should definitely
find time to write or have written for you by a website content provider.
Don’t title your homepage “Welcome to [name of your site].”
Don’t include that message anywhere on your homepage, in fact. It’s
a waste of space. This was normal in 1996 but it’s pretty passé
now. Everyone already knows they’re on your site. What you need
to tell them is what they can do there. Try something like “Buy,
Study, and Discuss Widgets.”
Also make sure your title incorporates any keywords you think people
might use to search for your product or service on the internet. Search
engines decide how to categorize pages largely based on the homepage title
and first heading text.
Ideally, the first few paragraphs of the homepage (the ones aimed at
new visitors) should not be more than 100-350 words total. The teasers
for inside pages targeted to returning visitors should not be more than
about 100 words each.
Making Sure Your Website Has the Best Homepage Possible
Before your homepage goes live, test it out on a few people. Don’t
just ask your volunteers how they like your homepage. Courtesy may prevent
you from getting an honest response. Instead, ask them to find how to
buy your latest product or if they understand what’s the most important
development in your company recently. If they can navigate to the correct
page within about eight seconds (the average human attention span on the
web), you’ve done well.
You may just want to hire a website copywriter, online copywriting firm,
or website content provider to create your homepage for you. After all,
you wouldn’t build your own office building, would you? Of course,
that’s not an entirely fair comparison—more people will see
your business website homepage than will ever see your office building.
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