The most important thing your homepage contains is a clear and succinct explanation of your expertise — who you are, what you do, and for whom. It’s your positioning statement. If your positioning is clear, writing that explanation should be pretty simple. Ideally, we’re only talking about a sentence here.
So you’ve got one of those, right?
If not, write one and get it up on your homepage (and elsewhere, but more on this later) ASAP. Really, don’t worry about it being perfect right now — just get something up there that at least correctly expresses your positioning at the moment. I say this because you can reasonably expect it — either nuances of of what you do or nuances of how you express that — to change over time.
Time and experience are your editors. Nothing is ever perfect the first time on the web.
I think we’re a pretty good example of this principle. Let me show you how our positioning statement has evolved over the years. First, a disclaimer: Until November of 2002, Newfangled.com had some kind of splash page. Most of them were Flash, even. So yeah, it was bad. But we didn’t know any better then. Few of us did.
But then we got our act together and things began to change pretty quickly.
“RaPiD prototyping drives our development process. WebTop makes our sites easily maintainable for our clients. But it’s design that makes our sites distinctive. Check out our portfolio and hear what our clients have to say about Newfangled’s work.”
“WebTop and RaPiD allow us to offer highly functional, easily maintainable sites to all of our clients. Newfangled also enables advertising agencies and design firms to comfortably, confidently and profitably offer web development services to their clients through Agency Alliances.”
Anyone have any idea what WebTop or RaPiD mean? I didn’t think so. Don’t invent new words for things you didn’t invent and definitely don’t put them in your positioning statement. We figured this out pretty quickly.
“Newfangled passionately refines the entire web development process to give every client the powerful advantages of content management.”
At this point, we actually were marketing to agencies, but that’s nowhere to be found in our positioning statement. We did have something called “Agency Alliance” in our main navigation menu, but our statement seemed to indicate that content management was our main thing.
“Your Website is Only as Good as its Content. As web developers we know images are important and good design is vital. Yet we believe that words are preeminent on the web. Newfangled passionately invents tools and services that unleash the power of your website’s content…”
A little more clarity, but too many words. And still none that really make clear who our clients are.
“Comfortable, confident, and profitable website development partnership for advertising agencies and design firms.”
Finally, a short explanation of what we do and for whom. But too many subjective descriptions of it. Comfortable, confident, and profitable… for whom???
“Newfangled helps advertising agencies work Web Smart”
Oh, no. More “branded” jargon. Anyone know what “Web Smart” means? We did go on to clarify it… sort of:
“The web moves fast. Newfangled has been developing websites with advertising agencies since our inception in 1995. We’ve continually helped our clients and partners stay on top of it all through smart website design and development including our innovative grayscreen prototyping process and easy to use CMS. We also write Web Smart Newsletters, post to the Web Smart Blog, and engage in Web Smart Agency Consulting.”
…but I bet some of you didn’t even read that. By this point, Twitter existed, and we were beginning to learn the power of brevity.
“Newfangled has been helping advertising agencies build better websites for their clients since our inception in 1995. We’ve continually helped our partners stay on top of it all through smart website design and development including our innovative grayscreen prototyping process and easy to use CMS.”
Again, clearer. But it could be cut down big time.
OMG. None!?! What were we thinking? We had just launched a new design that filled our homepage with all of our latest content — newsletters, webinars, blogs, case studies, etc. — and we had this big marquee at the top. I guess we figured we’d let the content speak for itself.
“Since 1995, Newfangled has worked with designers, advertising agencies, and in-house marketing departments to build conversion-focused websites for mid-sized businesses.”
By May, we’d wised up.
“Newfangled works with ad agencies to build conversion-focused websites for themselves and their clients.”
“Newfangled builds conversion-focused websites for ad agencies and their clients.”
Better. The who and what are there, and in only 11 words!
“We work with marketing agencies to build conversion-focused websites for their clients.”
This is our current version. And as I hinted earlier, it’s on our homepage and every other page of our website. We know that the majority of our visitors enter our site on some page other than our homepage, and they need to quickly know who we are and what we do, too.
We’ve struggled over the years to correctly identify our audience, and as you can see from the many iterations of our positioning statement, we’ve experimented with plenty of labels. Agencies. Advertising Agencies. Designers. Design Firms. Marketing Agencies. Is that you? For now, we think that marketing is the best expression of what we’re all really doing together, whether that is designing and building a website, or navigating the surrounding business ecosystem of CRM, Marketing Automation, and the like. So that’s where we’ve landed. It’s taken years.
…And it will probably change again at some point!