They say the Internet democratized publishing. Conquer the world with your homepage. Or at least the world’s 3 billion Internet users.
But you have to write the words on that homepage first. How do you know what to say? In what order do you say it? The Internet is waiting.
This method is designed to produce your first draft of the homepage text with minimal time and effort. We’re filling in the blanks of a conventional homepage template.
Filling in these blocks will not be a total thrill. What’s important is the critical thinking you’ll do to prioritize your messages and express them succinctly. Remix and order the blocks for wilder designs. But you’ve got to start somewhere.
Choose Your First Priority Action
The first block is your main message. If visitors do nothing else, they’ll see this. What are you going to say? Begin by identifying your audience. For most companies, it’s new potential customers who are meeting you for the first time. Next, identify what they want to see.
Prospects look for two things. First, your position statement. What’s unique and valuable about you? Now there’s a concept you can spend hours reading on. But not today, because you’re reading this. Rephrase your position statement into a short, sweet headline. Follow it up with a sentence or two of support.
Second, prospects want clear instructions about what to do next. They’ve read your headline, time to prove you’ve got the goods. Follow your support paragraph with a call to action. Some common CTAs: Join the Club, Request an Estimate, Order Online. This is your button text.
While this guide focuses on text, your message will require a photograph or illustration in the background. This could be a specific product shot or a picture of staff on the job. You might also use a drawing to express something more abstract.
Spotlight Three Services/Features
If the first section is all about your first priority, the second row is about expanding on and supporting that thought.
Pick your three most popular services or product features. Use the service or feature name for a title and write a sentence describing it. Do three of those, four if you have to. Five? Don’t get crazy.
When you get to mocking up the web design, each of these items might get an icon, so be thinking about how to represent them visually.
Add a Full-Width Phone Number
Time to give your visitors a little break. So far, we’ve used a single column row followed by a row of 1/3 columns. Use another single column row, this time a thin one containing a slice of text prompting visitors to take the next step (joining, contacting, calling, etc.).
Wondering which of these blocks goes above or below the fold? That’s cute. The fold is obsolete. But if I had to point it out, this would be it. Everything above (the spotlight features, the main message) is new information I really want people to see. Everything below expands and supports what’s already been said.
First Half-width Blurb
Not to say these rows aren’t important. They bulk up your homepage with additional text, great for Google and great for those visitors not yet convinced you’re the best choice. Like your spotlight features, these blurbs bring out benefits. Use a benefit-focused headline with two or three sentences. Link to a page that expands even more on this topic.
Second Half-width Blurb
Repeat! These blurb areas are also a great place for those miscellaneous homepage must-haves. You could replace the text blurb with an embedded Twitter stream, an important certification badge, a display of 3-5 recent blog post titles, even a customer review.
Some company homepages add additional blocks, extending the homepage. Don’t be afraid of long homepages. People will scroll!
Remind Visitors to Act
As we come to the end of your homepage, it’s time to remind visitors what to do. Repeat your instructions from above, with different words. State what visitors need to do next. Use the clearest terms possible, keep it focused on the benefit. Samples: Call (123) 555-5555 for an estimate, Start Making Better Cakes, Join Now for 20% Off.
Describe Your Business in the Footer
Can’t forget this part. Complete websites include an area called the footer, repeated on each and every page. This is where you’ll find important contact information, social media buttons and other info you need on each page.
The most important bit? That business description. Spend two or three sentences describing what you do. Be straightforward, avoid industry lingo. But use the specific words and phrases people use to search for you online.
Send It to Your Web Designer
All done? You bet you’re all done, you savvy web marketer you. You’ve written all the text content for your homepage. You’ve made important choices about which messages are the most important. That’s seriously the hardest part and you did it!
Feel free to step back and take another look at your text tomorrow. Make any changes or corrections and send it off to your web designer. They’ll appreciate your preparedness and be able to move that much faster toward a finished site.