For those of us in the industry, it has been understood for over a decade that web surfers don’t read, they scan.
This is news to many website owners.
Think about it: when was the last time you read every word on every web page you came across? Especially home pages? Never?
Same for the rest of us.
This is important to remember when writing home page text.
A few tips and links for effective home page text.
1. You want to be brief and to the point. You want the page easily scannable.
Don’t fall in love with what you have to say so much that you assume the rest of the world wants to read it. They probably don’t.
When I redesigned my own business site, one part of the redesign was re-writing the home page. I stuck with the “less is more” mantra and kept looking at it critically to see what else could be removed.
Today, I have something much more concise, with sections of bullet points and one paragraph for those in the audience that actually like to read: http://www.geekartist.net/
I added action buttons to guide people to those things site visitors are typically most interested in when visiting.
2. Avoid the trite “Welcome to the home page of…”. Use of this typically looks amateurish. Everyone knows they are welcome. They just found your page and the assumption is you want them there.
3. Give your visitors a brief description of what you are about, offer, sell, etc. As Vincent Flanders, author of Web Pages that Suck provides a site checklist to evaluate your site. Among the items there: “It takes longer than four seconds for the man from Mars to understand what our site is about.”
Remember, most people surfing are looking for specific information. They are probably in a hurry too. Give them the high points, and then link those keywords to other pages with more details. If they want to know more, they’ll move to those pages.
4. Speaking of keywords, this is what search engines will use to pull results. So build text around important key words that surfers may use to find your site. Notice that on my site, I’ve worked in the important words of:
search engine optimization
and so on….
Find the keywords important for your site and work around that.
5. Surfers hate scrolling. Keep it to a minimum. Better yet, remove it entirely. Can’t tell if you have too much text? Well, see how much you have to scroll. More than one flick of the mouse wheel (or one click on the right side scroll bar) = too much.
Some of you are observant and have noticed that this page is long and involves scrolling. Blogs are exempt from that rule, as they exist for people that want to read more on a subject. Although there are guidelines for writing blogs too and that will come another day.
Even experienced writers will want to learn more about the subject of writing for the web, as the web works differently than other mediums.
For more details on writing for the web, check out these helpful links. (Yes, they are older, but the principles still stand.)
And as usual, feel free to contact me with any questions.