Sometimes your web page is intended to be read. Your blog posts, your articles, your lesson plans, the novel you’re posting one chapter at a time to share with your writing group — you’re writing these for people who are intentionally taking time to read the stuff you’ve written.
Your homepage? Maybe not. People reaching your website are often making a quick visit to find specific data, or to decide whether to look further at your site or to click straight back to the search engine results.
Often, site owners need to shorten the text on their homepage. What’s the best way to do this?
- Don’t be too fond of your words. This is really the first step. If you labor over your writing like a poet, you may find it very hard to cut things out. You may need professional help — not a counselor, but a writer. We professionals are immune to the charms of your words, and can be ruthless.
- Remove words that don’t add information. Go right through and delete all words like “literally” and “believe it or not” and “needless to say.” Anything that doesn’t actually tell your reader something can go. Likewise, all the words that say you’re the best, the premier, the most important — people take it with a grain of salt when you say those things about yourself anyway. You can probably remove all words like “unique,” too. If you’re unique, talented, and so on, readers will notice that for themselves.
- Remove things that don’t contribute to your goal. For your homepage, the goal is to appeal to the search engines and entice the humans to stay. Any word that doesn’t move you closer to that goal (and isn’t required for a grammatical sentence) can be removed.
- Consider collapsing sentences. When you have sentences saying that your product is A, and that your product is B, and that your product does C, you can often just say that your product is an A, B C-doer. Look how much space you save!
- Divide and conquer. While it’s essential that your homepage should tell visitors what you offer and how they can get it, you’ll want them to move further into your site. As long as it’s very clear where they can find more information, most people don’t mind clicking to another page for further details. Many people, in fact, would rather click than scroll.
One of the side effects of shortening your content may very well be that you end up with stronger sentences and livelier text, as well as something that works better from the standpoint of design. Try it and see.