The Most Important Part of Your Web site
In my previous article, Website Design: How to Choose the Best Web Designer, I gave you a lot of essential information on everything website related. That article is still super useful to get a great understanding of what you need for your website as a whole. If you haven’t read it yet you should.
There’s still one fundamental point that I only just touched on that I need to go over in more detail…
The Secret Weapon in a Winning Web Site
This little detail I’m about to reveal is so important that I’ve recently realized it’s the most important part of your website.
- It’s not how high up it ranks on Google searches.
- It’s not the colors, design or style you use.
- It’s not any of the technical details behind a good site.
It’s simply this:
the words you use on your website!
More specifically, the very first words on your homepage.
This is so stupidly simple that many people (even great designers and marketers) completely miss it. How often do you arrive at a website of a business you don’t know very well and wonder… “what exactly do these guys actually do?”
They may even have a great looking website, nice graphics and all that. It’s means very little without a crystal clear message of what they can do for you.
In the Online World ATTENTION is the Number One Currency
Think about your normal frame of mind when browsing online… How long do you usually stay on a web page? Mostly I’m betting it’s less than 10 seconds. Why do I say this? Because most webpages you check out don’t give you what you want, so you hit back and check out what else Google has to offer. The websites you do hang around on, especially if you haven’t seen them before, are the ones that tell you exactly what to expect from them right away.
You want to find a certain fantasy author? That website better say something like “Melissa McPhail, Fantasy Author”. Now, somewhere deep inside, you breathe a little sigh of relief and go “my search is over.”
On your own website, you tend to want to sound amazing.
It’s tempting to say something really fancy sounding, or something very clever as the heading for your site. If you get it right it can work really well. Like this line from a hugely successful coffee site in the US…
The above example immediately communicates it’s all about how to brew coffee. It gets the message across. It’s about how to brew coffee really well. You just get it. It also gets the cheeky, memorable angle right too.
All too often though, if you try to sound too clever, you end up not saying the really important stuff, like who you are and what you do. And, most importantly, what you can do for your website visitor.
As someone who knows our own business well we tend to forget how to explain our business clearly, in one interesting line, to people who have never come across us before.
First, simply get through, then get clever
Always go for communicating first, in clear, simple language, and then work out how to better it from there. When in doubt just go short and simple.
- “We build business software rapidly.”
- “Earn a living independently doing something you care about.”
- “Product X, a better way to solve problem Y for audience Z”
can be a perfectly winning statement on a website. With your first line, less is more, and making sure your message really hits home is the entire point.
You can test this with your website’s opening line. Get people who’ve never seen it, or even better, who have no idea what you do, to have a look with you right there. Have them read the first line on the home page, no scrolling down. Ask them what they think the site is about. You may just discover that your site doesn’t actually say anything. Or you may realize it says about half of what you want it to.
The thing is, this first line is your one opportunity to let your ideal customer know that, yes, they have landed in the right place. It’s the line that’s going to keep them around long enough to have a chance to find out exactly how you’re going to deliver the amazing thing you just said you do!
If you get this line down everything else on the site from this point on is really just there to show exactly how and why you do this thing, and why you’re the business they want to use for it.
It’s these stupidly simple opening lines that, when done right, really transform your website into a powerful networking and marketing tool.
Always craft this line for a first-time visitor
Someone that’s been there before hardly notices the introduction anymore. They’ve seen it, they kind of get you. At least a little. You can start to help them understand more and more of what you’re about in your other content.
A first time visitor is the most difficult one to get to keep browsing through your stuff. If you craft your entire site towards interesting them, you’re going to win a lot more than if you try and only speak to the people that already know you.
This applies of course, mostly to your homepage and your main navigation pages (the ones in your menu). Once you get past these, into the deeper pages of your website, you can get more specific and detailed about the different aspects of your business because all the important introductions have been made.
For best results use a copywriter
This game is tough! It’s tricky! It’s right at the core of what’s going to make your website work or not work. I’ve sat with clients for hours getting just this one thing right, and we still change it later once we’ve worked out something better.
If you aren’t gifted with an exceptional ability to choose and use words, get someone to do it who is. A copywriter’s job is to get the words on the page to speak the message you want, to the audience you want to talk to, in a way that’ll get them interested.
Since we are after all talking about the most important part of your website invest in someone who can do this really well.
Make sure that person:
- really gets your product or service, and
- really gets who you’re trying to get through to.
This is very important. Only once both of these are really understood is your copywriter, or your marketing team, likely to produce something of any value.
Have a question?
If there’s something in this article I haven’t covered? or maybe you’d like to know more about anything I’ve mentioned? Leave a comment below and I’ll respond as soon as I can.