The Key to Effective Homepage Content: Focus, Focus, Focus

Your website’s homepage is the most important page in your site. That seems obvious, doesn’t it? Your homepage is your storefront, the first thing visitors see when they arrive at your site. It establishes your professional image and, if it’s well-written and designed, draws readers deeper into your site to learn more about your work and why they should do business with you.

So why are so many homepages so cluttered? Because all too often, we try to cram every bit of important information we can think of into that one page, hoping that our visitor will find what she’s looking for. If we leave something out, she may miss it and move on, right?

Less is More
Not so, especially now that mobile devices are becoming such an important means of searching the web. You can’t fit much information on a smart phone screen, so it’s essential to focus on your key message and call to action. That goes for full screen views, as well. Too much information is distracting, confusing and will cause your visitor to click away.

When I’m writing website content, I always save the homepage for last. Once I’ve created text for an About page and Professional Services, answered FAQs, and developed Resources and any Case Studies or Testimonials, I have a much clearer sense of the core message.

Here are the key points to keep in mind as you craft your own homepage text:

What Is Your Business About?
When someone lands on your site, the first thing she wants to know is what you do. To answer that question, you need to understand why she’s come to your site. What is the key problem she’s trying to solve, and how do you provide the answer? Keep it short and tight—remember, this text has to fit on a smart phone.

What’s Your Call to Action?
What do you want your visitor to do before she leaves your site? Buy your lead product? Contact you for a free consult? Donate to your cause? Download your free e-book? Your call to action needs to be clear, prominent and above the fold (no scrolling) on both a mobile device and computer screen. It should appear on your homepage and on all pages deeper in your site (this can be accomplished with a sidebar widget).

Can Your Visitor Easily Find More Information?
It’s essential to have clear, user-friendly navigation. A helpful way to think about this is described by Steve Krug in Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability. In this very accessible book, Krug emphasizes that different people have different ways of finding information. He uses the metaphor of entering a department store: Some people look at the signage to find the goods they want, some look at the floor map and some ask a sales clerk for directions.

As you create your navigation—using an excellent web template, such as StudioPress, or working with a good designer—keep this metaphor in mind. Be sure you have easy-to-read “signage” in your nav bar and redundant links in graphics and text, as well as a good search function to help your visitor find what she’s looking for in one or two clicks.

Can Repeat Clients Find What They Need Without Wasting Time?
This is an issue of design as much as content. You want your valued customer to get directly to the content she’s looking for without wading through basic information or waiting for a slide show to load.

Is Your Message Easy to Remember?
We’re bombarded with messages all day long. You want yours to be easy to digest and easy to recall. Keep your text clear and focused. Use headings and enough white space in your homepage layout to enable your visitor to skim for key points and read more by scrolling if she’s interested. Test your content by asking someone who fits your client profile to read your homepage and answer these five key questions.

Take the time needed to get your homepage right. Be clear on your goals for your visitors, test and revise until you get the response you’re looking for. For the most-viewed page in your site, it’s well worth the extra effort.

Marketing consultant Evelyn Herwitz loves to help you tell a great story about your great work. She specializes in search-optimized web content that positions you as an approachable expert in your field and helps you grow your business. Contact Evelyn for a free half-hour consult for new clients.

 

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