(“Home,” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros)
I’m a sucker for songs about home. From Phillip Phillips to Billy Joel, I can’t get enough of people crooning about home.
I’ve noticed though: all of the beloved songs about home (whether they are rockin’ or sappy) pretty much say the same thing: it’s people, belonging, and love that create home.
So, if home is about people, belonging, and love, how can we bring those ideas into the space of your HOME PAGE? Now, you already know that I love a good ABOUT page, and I’ve done a lot of work around them, helping people write better ones, creating a guide so you can write better ones yourself, and generally putting good About page energy into the world.
But a Home page is still a special place. For you, the marketer, it’s the page that establishes your web site direction. It’s the thing to get really, really excited about when you first see it. When I work on people’s sites, the Home page is always the first page we concept with the designer. I can’t image saying: Hmm, let’s start with a concept for the Contact page.
Often, the Home page is the first stop for customers and clients. It’s the first chance for that belonging moment. The one when people will either feel a warm rush of lyrical sentiment (“Wherever we’re together, that’s my home . . .”) or high tail it out of there, channeling a tune of discontent (for some reason, I’m playing “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers in my head as I write this).
Your About page should tell your story and forge a strong connection. But your Home page? It should make the right people (the ones who want to work with you) feel like they just . . . fit.
Let Me Land
I think Home pages have been on my mind lately because I just changed mine around a bit. (I struggled for weeks with how to change the copy, and then—right in the middle of writing something completely different for a client—it just popped into the my brain.)
But also, because of summer camp. As soon as there is the hint of a daffodil, it means that it’s time to figure out how to get rid of the kids for entire days during the summer entertain and engage the kids this summer.
It’s money I know I have to spend (because it’s a service we need). So, when I’m searching summer camp web sites (or following recommendations from friends), I don’t need to be sold right off the bat. So don’t talk down to me or try to overtly sell me. Just tell me if I’m in the right place or not. Tell me quickly if I belong (and ultimately, if my kids belong). Tell me quickly if I’m home. Give me a moment to land. And then get me seamlessly to the details (which you can use to sell me, once I’m sitting down and comfortable).
(Quick rant: This is my problem with squeeze pages, and why I hate them. Why in the world would you make someone make a decision before even inviting them in to sit down? You can banish the whole practice as far as I’m concerned.)
When you are a service provider, everything is about selling: I get that. But as someone embarks on understanding what you do, why you do it, and if you’re their person, they have an experience in each part of that journey—from stumbling up on your site (or checking you out after they heard about you), to reading your blog, to talking with you or emailing with you, to doing their due diligence reading your story and getting a sense of your background, to the moment they say “yes.”
I know that customer experience is a huge area, with research and books and blogs and thought leaders. And that’s a very good thing (because people matter).
But the reality is: you can’t control their experience, especially as they are getting to know you. It’s theirs to have.
But you can set it up for them. You can give them a home—a center they feel in their bones and a Home page they can see, clear and uncomplicated, that invites them to belong.
So, as for what to say on your Home page: it’s not really so complicated as I once thought it was. Ask yourself: What can you say to let your people know they are home? It doesn’t need to be everything they need to know about your story. Just the stuff at home base. And then: what use of space and interpretation of your brand feels most like the compass that will help them make their way through the experience?
You don’t really “bring” sales home. People choose to come home with you. And they come home because they see it’s where they belong.
So who belongs with you, and what do you want to tell them?