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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:
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
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
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.
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 outdated 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
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.
Author: Joel Walsh is the head writer for UpMarket
Content (http://upmarketcontent.com), a website
content firm serving business sites. You can find
more information on writing a homepage, including
a template, along with the rest of the seven essential
web pages for business websites, such as the "about
us" and "product and services" pages,
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