Website engagement is like super-speedy speed-dating

How do you introduce yourself?

Your homepage is often the location where you meet and greet new visitors. I like to think of it as super-speedy speed dating – you don’t get 10 minutes of your partner’s time, you get about 2-3 seconds! First impressions count. The look and design of your site is vital in attracting your desired audience, but beyond that: What to say?

You had me at “hello”

Ha – well, if “Hello” was all it took, then it would be easy, wouldn’t it! A new visitor to your site will react to their immediate impression of the visual layout of your site, and then what? They scan your site for text. What is it that jumps out at them? This is crucial and is so often missed on many sites. What are the first words a visitor sees on your site? It may well be your site’s name, or the tag line in the banner, or the main heading on the page. Whatever it is, it will be eye-catching. But does it convey what you want it to say?

You have 3-5 words to let your visitor know why they are should stick around, and that they will find what they are looking for there. So if the title says “Who we are” – it tells your visitor nothing. Perhaps your title says “Welcome”, which is lovely, or “Home”, but it still doesn’t say why your visitor should linger.

Put it in a nutshell

Think of it as a mini-elevator pitch. 3-5 words to explain who you are or what you do. That’s it. Make those first few words count, because if your colours and layout aren’t quite spot on, your words will be what encourages your guest to hang around.

What do your visitors need to know about you immediately?

They came to your site looking for something – don’t make it hard for them to find it. They haven’t bought in to you yet. They don’t know how wonderful you are yet. You know it, but they don’t! Make these few words jump out of the page so that your guest’s eyes are drawn to them. The main title is a great place to put them, or in the banner at the top. 3-5 words that describe what you do, or who you are. The Backstreet Boys may sing that they don’t care who you are or what you do, but that’s not the case for your web-visitors.

Build Goodwill

Visitors come to your website with a certain amount of goodwill. They come full of hope that you will be providing the solution that they are looking for. Perhaps you are their first click, perhaps the tenth, so make them welcome and let them know what you’re about. Each step of the way will either build their goodwill towards you or erode it to the point of bouncing off your site. Make it easy for them. Take them by the hand and guide them.

I was on a website of a fairly famous person the other day, whom I hadn’t actually heard of – I had been asked to critique their site. The site was dark (black background), with a main image of this person and three other small images. The only text was of their latest tweets and the navigation. At least, that’s all I noticed and remember of the page. The homepage left me absolutely none the wiser of who he was, why I was there and what I was supposed to learn about this person. In fact it didn’t even have his name on the site, just the initials! Now, I’m sure that Mr.Famous is very happy with his fan base and doesn’t need his website to grow it, but should you actually be wanting to reach people or even sell something online, you need to introduce yourself or your business quickly.

Sticky, speedy intros

What words jump out of your homepage first? Do they accurately say what you want someone to know about you immediately? Or are those words buried somewhere within blocks of text, never to reach the eyes of visitors? Make your website work wonderfully and make it easy for your visitors to love you. Let me know what words you choose as your nutshell description and how you let your guests know who you are in your super-speedy speed dating.