The most important page on your site...your home page.

After reading the title of this article your first thought might have been "My home page is more important than my ordering page?". Yes, it is! Let me tell you why.  
Your home page is the first page a potential customer is going to see. If it doesn’t grab them and make them want to stay and learn more, then why even have an ordering page?  

Does your home page appeal to your target audience? Often, websites are designed based on the owners likes and dislikes, not for customers.  Place vital information at the very top of the page or "above the fold". When you walk by a newspaper stand what makes you stop and pick up a paper? The headline that is at the top of the page. Do the same with your website. Write, then rewrite, and then rewrite your headline. Your headline or the very first line of your home page should be a show stopper. Don’t let it give the visitor a reason to leave. For example, "Do you have back problems?" isn’t good because someone could say no and then leave. Instead, "Enjoy each day pain free". Every one of us has a pain somewhere.  

Offer your visitor something for free. It doesn’t have to be a free product or service. Offer them a free subscription to your newsletter or if you have written several articles, collect them into an "E-book" and offer them that.  

Be sure your home page downloads quickly.  If you have some really cool animated graphic that you just have to use, don’t put it on the home page. People will generally wait longer for other pages on your site to download.  
Don’t place banner ads or links to other websites on your home page. Banner ads only add to the download time and distract your visitors away from your product or service. You have spent a lot of time and money getting that person to your site. Why tempt them to leave? If you feel you have to have banner ads on your site, create a separate page for them.

A common mistake is to try to give the customer too much information on the home page. The home page should serve as an introduction to the rest of the site... not be a site in itself. Focus the copy on the benefits of your product, not about you or your company. You may think it is important, but your clients really don’t care that you have been in business for 20 years. They want to know how you are going to solve their problem, make them money, or make them feel good.  

Keep rereading and rewriting your home page. This is a work in progress. The beauty of the Web is that your site can be updated as often as you feel necessary, without printing setup charges or the need to dispose of the 500 copies of literature you still have left from the last printing.

July 1, 2001

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