You’re building a new website and it’s time to decide what to write on your home page. “Wow”, you think, “where do I start”?
This is a challenge that just about everybody who has ever built a website faces. I’m facing it right now as I re-build this website.
You’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of sites out there that use nice big images on the home page, and they’re often setup as a slideshow. What is that about and why has it become such a thing? Is it just a fad, or is there something more going on there?
There is a very good reason why you typically see big evocative imagery on the home page of a website, but it’s not often well understood or communicated. If you had asked me a few years ago, I probably would’ve said it’s about creating a vibe, put a big compelling image on your home page to give people a good feeling when they first come to your site.
It turns out that answer, while true, is really only scratching the surface. And it doesn’t really help with the more difficult part of the main question. Which is “What do I write on the homepage”.
This is where a little bit of knowledge about biology (and in particular neurology) comes into the picture. Simon Sinek describes this wonderfully in this TED talk.
Simon talks about what motivates us to engage with certain businesses and people and he repeatedly reiterates one important sentence: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. He highlights that it is an emotional response that is triggered when you communicate to people what you’re about (what you believe, what motivates you and in short, why you do what you do) this is what engages people at an emotional level. He explains that this connection is experienced in the part of the brain that is involved with emotion and decision making (the Limbic system). Where telling someone what you do, while it may be useful, it’s processed in a different area of the brain (the neocortex, which involves language but not decision making). Which means that while people may “understand” what you do, that information doesn’t inspire people to engage with you.
This information is powerful, because it helps us to understand why the nice big images on the home page help (the emotional response to imagery can be useful). But it also means that we now have a better understanding of what messages we should be putting on the home page. Rather than just telling people what you do, focus on what motivates and inspires you. Or if you’re not sure what those things are or how to communicate them, then focus on what you want your customer to feel about the service or product you provide. Is it about safety, security, certainty, peace of mind? What is it that motivates your customer? That is what you are selling, not just the specifics of the service or the physical goods that your business provides.
If you have a bit of time to spare, I’d recommend you watch the TED talk I mentioned above now. And if you need to, reconnect with the reasons you do what you do. And if the first reason you come up with is “I do it for the money”, then dig a little deeper to figure out what it is you’re passionate about and how that influences the decisions you make in life and in business, because that’s where the power lies.