Fire up Merriam-Webster because you’re going to need some words here, not many but a well-chosen few, in exactly 6 positions at the top part of your business website homepage. A website visitor should be able to scan these titles and phrases and quickly understand your company, product or service and its awesomeness, as well as how to take the next step to become a customer.
Before we go on, you must take the Homepage Headline Writer’s Pledge:
“I shall focus on the customer’s needs.”
“I shall clearly explain why the customer should choose me.”
“I shall not blah-blah on with phrases that don’t say anything specific, such as ‘a leading service provider with a tradition of excellence’.”
Here are the 6 homepage headlines or other blocks of text you should place in the first screen of your website as viewed on a desktop computer or in the first few screens viewed on a mobile phone:
1. Main Headline
Front and center on the screen, the biggest single message you get to deliver on the homepage, working together with a lead image. Some options are:
- A basic tell-em-what-you-do, like Fleetgistics “the same day logistics experts”.
- Let the pictures show your services with the headlines as big captions like “protecting workers at heights”, “engineering”, etc. on Gravitec’s site.
- A statement of benefits, like Downtown’s Healthcare “Because Life Is Better When You Have Your Health” with an image of a relieved customer.
- A promise of a certain kind of customer experience: “Where Old Fashioned Service Meets New Technology”, for AA Auto Service Center.
- A statement of a problem and a solution like Zendesk’s “Relationships between businesses and their customers can be hard. Zendesk makes it easier” over a video of a bickering business/customer couple.
To the too many companies still using “Welcome to the [Company Name] Website!” as their main headline: Don’t.
2. Sub-headline or Text Block
Under the main headline, this is another phrase or a few sentences that add an explanation or heighten the impact. AA Auto Service Center elaborates on its headline with a mood-setter: “There was a time when you could pull into any station and get service with a smile. Those nostalgic days have returned,” etc. Stanley Restoration pairs the headline “We stand for peace of mind” with a photo of the company founder and a quote from him.
3. List of Products, Services, Skills, Features, Attributes…
Under the lead image for Apex Storage, see the four little boxes with an image and one-sentence description of each appealing feature they offer. And this is a popular homepage design, as on the 4120 site: three or four logo-style images over a description of services, “Video Production”, “Aerial”, “Weddings”.
4. Special Offer
A sweetener like “online special: first month’s rent half off “at Apex Storage or “click here: free oil change” for AA Auto Service Center or the big yellow button for “Start My Free 30-Day Trial” for the Moz marketing software company.
5. Call to Action
You want your site visitors to click, call, fill out a form, book an appointment or take some other action. So ask. Motor Works has a big clickable “Schedule an Appointment” sign over on the right. But here’s a clever variation from the Fienman Defense law firm site: The box on the right asks “why are you here?” and as the user clicks a choice (such as “I have been accused of a crime”) the site displays a number to call or a form to fill in. (Read these tips on writing an exciting call to action).
6. Company Name + Tagline
Paired with your company name or logo, this bit of text is an opportunity to add some identity or sparkle to your name, like “GE: Imagination at Work” or “Dave’s Car Care: Trusted Service Since 1980”. You may already have a tagline but if you haven’t touched it since 1980, this is a good time to re-think.
Image: Headlines from Downtown’s Health Care, 4120, Moz and AA Auto Center websites