Adding a start here page to my website was one of the big changes I made to my website as I rebranded it last year. The start here helped my readers (especially first-time visitors) orient themselves with what I had available on my website and blog, and see how it would help them.
Why You Need a Start Page
You may think the front page would be a good place for information to get your readers started, although I prefer to use my start page to highlight current and recent information, as well as featured resources and blog posts.
Because a I have a blog and informational website that has been around for about 12 years now (in one form or another), some oldies but goodies have gotten buried over time, yet are still relevant. Even if your website hasn’t been around for very long, as you add content to your site over the course of its life, important information may get buried deeper than you’d intend it too.
A start here page can help your readers find the information you feel is most important for new readers to find and acquaint themselves with.
Writing a Start Here Page Starts with Planning and Reflection
So what is the first step to writing your start here page?
I believe the best first step to writing a start page is to reflect on what the purpose of your website is, and what you want it to do for you and for your readers. Using that information, dig deep into the archives of your website (or think through some potential posts and write them fresh), and find posts and pages that will be most useful to first-time visitors.
When I created my start here page, I took the time to really go through and fix up some older posts. I also figured out which posts could be used with each other as related content.
In many ways, this exercise also helped me to see where I had strayed from my original mission statement for this newly rebranded website. Clearly, with my ADHD, I had a hard time sticking to the topic at hands during certain seasons. 🙂 I’m getting better.
Reading Your Vistors’ Minds and Meeting Their Needs
Next, you need to read your visitors’ minds a bit. This part is tricky because you have to do some guesswork based on your analytics and web traffic, plus feedback you get on posts you have shared. If your website is brand new, you’ll be doing, even more, guess work.
Imagine you are a first time visitor to your site, and you’ve landed somewhere other than the front page (which is usually the case). What additional information would a visitor want or need to help them best use your website?
For example, I write many different kinds of posts, as my tagline is, “Thoughts and tips for life; designs and tools for living it”. So, my Start Here page tries to reflect the diversity of the content on this website, by grouping my related posts together into link posts (which I discuss below), and directing visitors to my most popular content that would most likely be of use to them.
As I’ve had time to analyze my analytics for my website’s traffic more, I’ve been able to change and add to the content on my start here page to better reflect the needs of my visitors.
Tell A Little Bit About Yourself
The most visited page on any website is the about us page which I talk about more in another post. Even though a visitor can easily click on your About Me page (or, rather they better be able to easily find your about me page!), it’s still a good idea to offer a brief introduction to yourself and your website while on your Start Here page. (Learn more about writing your About Page here)
Basically, think of your start page as a page that directs your visitors deeper into the rest of your website, linking to other important pages such as the about page.
Initially this may seem very redundant to have information that can be found elsewhere on your site also listed on your Start Here page, but in terms of making a website user-friendly and easy to navigate, it’s very helpful to your visitors to be a little redundant with the important stuff, so they can find it more easily.
The Elevator Pitch
Part of this introduction to you and your website involves what business leaders refer to as an “Elevator Pitch”. The Elevator Pitch is called that because it’s a brief description of what you can do that could be shared during a short elevator ride with someone you just met.
An elevator pitch is a good idea for any business, organization, and individual, to help you nail down what it is you do and how your business or organization can help the person you just met. Normally we can’t just think up this stuff on the fly, so business owners and leaders are encouraged to develop an elevator pitch before you actually need it, so you have it in mind when meeting someone new as they ask, “So, what do you do?”
Some variation of your elevator pitch should be included on your Start Here page, since your visitors have clicked on your start link as a way of asking, “So, what do you do and how do you benefit me?”
Using Link Posts to Combine Related Content
One great option for your start here page is to highlight related important content, which can be combined into link posts.
A link post is basically a post in which you link to related content. For example, in my post about being more focused on what’s important to you, I have linked together 8 of my top posts on setting goals and living according to your goals and mission statement. Each of these posts is great on their own, but they are even more helpful to my readers by listing them together as “8 Steps to Focusing on What’s Really Important To You“.
Although I no longer write about motherhood as much (which used to be the main focus of this site before it’s rebranding), I was able to combine some of my best posts about motherhood into a link post on raising great kids. This way that excellent content isn’t lost forever, is easily found by readers looking for it specifically, but it also isn’t the main focus of the site.
Using a Clear Call to Action
No one likes someone who is overly salesy, but at the same time, your readers need to know clearly what it is you want for them to do on your website. If you have a store with products in it, highlight that here. If you have a service you offer, use your start page to emphasize your skills in executing that service, and then direct them to how they can hire you for that service.
Your pages and website don’t have to be one lengthy sales pitch. In fact, they probably shouldn’t be. However, your readers also shouldn’t have to hunt for what is most important in regards to your site’s purpose. This should be easily found for all new visitors. Use your Start Here Page to highlight it.
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