Homepages: Crafting a First Impression That Gets The RIGHT Kind of Attention
Let's imagine you have a big client meeting - or worse - presentation. You've never met them before and this is the kind of presentation that can make your career.
No pressure. You've got this. You're prepped. You know EXACTLY what you're going to say to Mr. Big Fish. You've spent hours rehearsing til it's natural - til it flows.
You walk into the room, poised, in control, smiling, engaging and as you begin to speak you take in the horrified glances of Mr. Big Fish and comrades. You look down - and suddenly...yep, you're naked. You've got spinach in your teeth and you're pretty sure something may have actually crawled out of your hair towards the lady in the front row.
It's the classic nightmare. It's your limbic system reminding you in a not-so-subtle way that first impressions matter, honey! They're stubborn and our brains actually go out of their way to dig up data that reinforce our first impressions rather than change them to accept new information.
So you're stressing about your Homepage. It's natural. I get it. Homepages are super important. They're your virtual first impressions. They establish the voice and tone for your whole site.
But most importantly they must convince the visitor within seconds that your site? It's Worth Their Time + Attention.
Because if you can't convince them they're in the right place - scratch that the perfect place, the Shangri-la they've been searching for...well, they're outta there as fast as you can say "exit".
It might be obvious to you and your Mom why you're so amazing and so worth their time and investment. But for a stranger who's just stumbled upon you from Google? Or Facebook? Twitter even? It's a little more dubious, my friend. So, of course, it's your job to show 'em.
Which is exactly why it's got to be all about THEM - at least to start. Perfect segue into The Hook.
Hooks are always 100% about the customer. I feel like I'm always preaching about the importance of hooks. 2 reasons: #1 If you haven't got a great hook they won't read past the first line - so you've got nothing. #2 Hooks are my favourite and if I haven't got the hook figured out I can't write the rest of the page. So, there's that. Read up on all about how to craft great ones right here.
Next, keep talking about THEM. You want to show you understand your customers/ clients/ peeps better than all your competitors. You can do this by declaring who your people are. It should, after all, be abundantly clear who your site is FOR. It should also be just as clear (either through explicitly stating it or obvious implication who it's NOT FOR). You can also do this by talking about their lives right now, show you understand their lived everyday experiences. Find the magic in the mundane things that connect you.
Now introduce yourself/your business/your service or your product. Whatever makes the most sense for you. Consider the tone and positioning of your product or service here because it should, at least, be consistent throughout the rest of the site. How you position your product could be the single most important part (after getting them to read this far into the page). You need to position your product or service so it aligns with their worldview, their beliefs and the narrative already taking place in their heads.
Finally, ask them to take ONE action. Just one. You'll convert better if you don't give people a ton of options to choose from. Same goes for filling up your Homepage with sidebars, and other distracting elements. Lots of options means they'll have to take time to think about it and while they're taking the time to think about it - they may just reconsider altogether and leave.
It doesn't make sense to ask them to buy straight from the Homepage. They probably don't have enough info for that. What you ask them to do next depends on your business, your goals and what you're selling. You might send them on to an About Page, a Sales Page or to check out the content of your blog if you're goal is to get subscribers.
There you go. That's how you craft a Homepage that creates an emotional connection with visitors. Hook them. Show them who it's for and that you clearly understand them better than anyone else. Position your service or product so it lines up with their worldview and reinforces the story they're already telling themselves. Finally, ask them to take one action.
That's how you craft a Homepage that draws them in and makes a lasting first impression. And not the kind that leaves people wondering who the naked trainwreck is the with spinach in her teeth and animals crawling out of her hair. Leave that one for your nightmares - where it belongs.
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