The Last Website Page You Should Write
If you’re not a copywriter, you may not have thought about the order in which website pages should be written. Or, if you have, you might assume that you start with the first page, the home page, and move on from there.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? Start at the beginning, the first page most people see. It’s the most important. It’s the store front, the billboard of your online presence.
All those things are true. Most visitors will land first on your home page. Even if they don’t start there, it’s a page they are likely to visit if they want to learn more about your business. So, it should be written first, right?
A Lesson from the Publishing World
The home page on your website is like the front cover of a book. It is a critical piece. The title and cover of a book can make the difference between whether someone picks it up off the shelf at Barnes & Noble or passes it by. The same is true of the home page of your website. It is the cover. It can make the difference between whether a visitor stays on the site or clicks away.
When is the title to a book determined? Is it decided by the author before writing the book? Not usually. Usually the author will submit multiple title suggestions to their publisher for consideration. The publisher may select one of the author’s suggestions or come up with a different title altogether.
The same is true of the information that is printed on the back of the book and the inside of the book jacket. These are critical pieces in the selling of the book. The reader gains more detailed information about the author and the subject of the book from the cover. The about page on your website serves a similar purpose.
The title and cover content for a book are written last. Why? Two reasons.
1. They are critical to the success of the book.
2. They need to summarize the completed work.
For Stronger Flavor, Let It Soak
Titles are determined last because the manuscript inspires the title, not the other way around. Seldom does an author keep the very first working title for their book, because they have yet to discover the full breadth of the book. The same is true when I’m writing the copy for a business website.
I start with a get-to-know-you call with the business owner. This is like the first read through of the manuscript. I get a full picture of the company, their services and the unique selling points that set them apart. I will have some thoughts on what to write on the home page and about page, but that isn’t where I’ll begin. I’ll begin with the meaty part of the website, the services page.
The services page or pages often contain the most content. They are where you learn what the company offers and how those offerings can benefit you. By writing this core content first, it allows me to soak in the flavor of the business as I write. I start formulating descriptive phrases and words to use in the key messages of their brand.
Using this approach, the home page becomes a summation of all that I have written on the other pages. And, isn’t that what you want it to be? It gives me the time to refine the core message as I work through the writing of the website pages. My first thoughts are seldom my best thoughts. I need a little time to steep, like a tea bag in hot water, to release my best creativity.
To My Web Designer Friends
If you’re a website designer, I hope you will give my process some consideration. Do you really want the writer to write the home page first? If you don’t give the tea bag time to steep, your tea will be weak and bland. Allow your writer to soak in the general content writing first. You’ll end up with a much stronger home page, when left for last.