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Strategy, tactics, ideas and tips from Creative Company.

Your website home page is a job application

Write a great cover letter for your home page

website-home-page-letterThe best job application includes a succinct, to-the-point cover letter that grabs a hiring manager’s attention. That’s what your website home page must do for your visitors.

They’ve found you. You want them to hire you.

A recent article in Fast Company, titled “I Review Hundreds Of Cover Letters—Here’s What I Instantly Reject” got me thinking. Every point made in this excellent overview applies to how to write an outstanding website home page.

Your website home page is the cover letter that will grab a visitor and entice them to read further to learn more about what you have to offer. The article is worth a full read … I’ve added a few excerpts below.

First … don’t turn the reader off with sloppy, generic writing

First things first, I skim the document for anything that could be disqualifying. That includes typos, a “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern”salutation, or a vibe so non-specific that it reeks of find-replace.

Remember, you’ve only got 3 seconds to communicate at-a-glance who you are and what you have to offer. Use bold visuals, brief and to-the-point headline, and a quick explanation in support copy. Avoid long general descriptions full of big words that aren’t immediately clear or might even be confusing.

Proof well, there must be NO TYPOS or errors.

That introduction must set the stage and answer “what’s in it for me?” for the visitor who could be your best potential customer or client.

Tone … are you grabbing the reader? Are messages clear and specific?

If your first line reads: “I am writing to apply for [job] at [company],” I will delete it and suggest a swap every time. (Yes, every single time.) When a hiring manager sees that, she won’t think, “How thoughtful of the applicant to remind me what I’m reading!” Her reaction will be much closer to, “boring,” “meh,” or even “next!”

Avoid buzz words and trite language. Bland and boring are bad. You certainly don’t need to say “welcome to our website” or “our website home page is here to tell you more about our company.” The visitor already knows they’ve landed on your website. They’re impatient. Don’t bore them with platitudes or by repeating the obvious.

Use photos or testimonials to make your story more vivid and authentic. Provide examples to tell your story from a different angle and illustrate the benefits of what you offer.

Get to the point … what makes you the best choice?

Again, the goal isn’t just to show you’re qualified: It’s to make the case that you’re more qualified than all the other applicants. You want to make clear what distinguishes you, so the hiring manager can see why you’re worth following up with to learn more. And—again—you want to be memorable.

Write to your audience as if you are having a one-to-one conversation. Instead of listing your products and services, tell the story of what your best clients experience or receive when they buy from you or work with you. What problems do you solve for them? That’s what the visitor really wants to know right away.

Answer their questions:
  • Who are you?
  • What do you provide?
  • Why should I care?
  • What’s in it for me?
  • Can you deliver what I’m looking for?

Your visitor is thinking and choosing quickly … do I look further or do I click back to the other results of my search? Hit critical benefits fast. What makes you different? What are the results or outcome they want? Use simple, brief language. Don’t go on and on. People don’t want to read a lot on a website. They’ll scan instead.

Be authentic, be unique, add personality

If you write a laundry list, it’ll blend into every other submission formatted the same way. So, just like you went with a unique opener, do the same with your examples. Sure, you might still include lists of skills, but break those up with anecdotes or splashes of personality.

There are likely many other choices for your target audiences–other companies that provide basically the same goods and services you do. Both the design and content of your website’s home page must immediately show personality, authenticity and answer the top-level questions (see above) your visitors may have.

People do business with people they like, admire and trust. What can you show or tell to capture their attention and build trust? What are the stories, case studies and people to support your central messages?

Connect your messages, visuals and your website home page layout in a hierarchy

Build personality and interest with your pictures, colors and overall layout. Make it easy to scan your website’s home page and choose where to click through for more. Use pictures to tell the story and support the ideas that separate you from the competition.

We’re proponents of the long home page, primarily because it works so well on mobile. Scrolling down to different sections is simpler and faster than clicking through drop-down menus. It also allows you to tell your story in a hierarchy of sections that encourage visitors to take action, to click through to more.

Wondering how to improve your website?

We offer a worksheet outlining 6 website essentials that may lead you to consider redesigning your website. Yours to download below.

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We’ve won awards for our marketing-driven websites. And our clients are seeing the results of careful planning, content to appeal to the audiences, and design that captures attention and encourages visitors to look deeper. Let me know if you want to talk further about your website’s home page or your online brand.

About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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