When you sit down to write your website, it’s all too easy to start with the home page. You probably imagine your ideal reader finding themselves there first. But is this really where they land? And even if it is, writing this page first is the worse idea. Let me explain why.
Your home page might not be where your reader first lands on your site
Imagine how a reader lands on your site. If they are looking for you, and you specifically, they might well put your business name in a search engine. In which case they’ll find themselves at your home page in no time (fingers crossed!) But if they found you through social media where someone shared a blog post you wrote, or through a funnel for a sale you’re running, or maybe even by searching for a specific product or service, they could land on any number of different pages. As you set up these specific pages on your site, think about what you want a reader to do when they land there. They can use the menu at the top to navigate to different pages, and perhaps they will choose your home page next. But if you want to have more control over which button they click next, you need each page to be compelling in it’s own right, to be on brand, and to lead your reader to where you want them to go next.
Your home page is your storefront and greeter combined
Your home page should be a summary of all the things you say on your other pages. You want to give snippets of information about you, your services or products, how to contact you, your testimonials, all within easy scrolling distance. Your reader should be able to click through to find out more details about any of these items as they read them. And as I mentioned in point 1 above, there should always be a Call To Action to help guide your readers to where you want them to go next. The best way to provide a comprehensive but short teaser of a more detailed page is to write it after the comprehensive page has been drafted and finalized. Scan your final copy for the nuggets that shine, really displaying your goals for that page. Rambling copy that leads you to what you really want to say is for first drafts of pages. Pull out the best copy and summarize that for your home page.
If you must draft your home page first, use placeholders
I understand that sometimes the urge to get the home page down is so great you can’t resist – I’ve been there! Sometimes it helps to write the rambling summary first, and once you understand what you’re aiming for, work on making those points on your other pages where you have more room. If you must do this, please don’t see that summary as your final copy. Put it in square brackets, write DRAFT before you start, write it as bullet points rather than full sentences. Once you can see how your homepage flows and you’re in the mind of your ideal reader, you can go on to work on your other pages, but don’t forget to come back and delete those placeholders, and write fresh summaries for your home page.
Consider your CTAs – primary and secondary
More than any other page on your website, you want to be crystal clear on what you want your reader to do next, and you want to have that Call To Action button prominent and above the fold. Top right of the screen is the most common place to add your main CTA, although if you go with limited words and a large visual, the center of the screen above the fold works well too. Do you want them to call you, set up an automated appointment, buy something? There will be one overarching goal for your site, something you want your ideal customer to do before they click away and are caught by some other competing interest. What is it?
If readers drop in on your home page and aren’t ready to commit to that big picture CTA, however, you need to offer them incentives to stay on your site. The way to do that is by using secondary CTAs, that move them around your site learning more and/or gets them to sign up to your email list so that you can continue to nurture them as a lead. Think about where during the process of scrolling through your site you want to place your secondary CTAs. If you are summarizing your services or products, it can be useful to allow readers to click through to those dedicated pages and learn more. If you add a testimonial, you might want to add a ‘sign up for my newsletter’ CTA after. It’s always important to have a final CTA at the very bottom of your page, on the off chance your reader has made it that far.
When you’re ready to sit down and write your website copy, consider keeping your home page until last. And if you’re finding the thought of writing all these goals, CTAs and summary copy overwhelming, contact me to find out how I can help! I offer a Done With You package starting at $499, where I provide you with a template to complete all these sections, and I take it from draft to done, guaranteeing you website copy that wows just 2 weeks later!