What will your website's hook be? 

This is article #
in the series:
Questions to help you build a better website
September 2020

Photo by Ryan Kwok on Unsplash

What your visitors see first shapes how they think and feel about your website. And if it doesn't enthuse or trigger them, then you're climbing a mountain from thereon out.

That's why your website's entry points are so crucial.

In writing, the first few sentences are known as the hook and receive by far the most attention. On a website, a hook isn't quite the same. It includes images, font choices, menu options, CTAs (Call to Actions) and more. But it is just as important.

The components of a hook

The hook lives at the beginning of your page in the 'hero section'. This is a large banner that generally fills up all the space people see when they arrive on your site. 

It usually consists of a large heading, a small bit of text (about two sentences) and an image. These three elements together form your hook. Make sure the image is captivating and relevant, and that the text is enticing and succinct. 

Your hook should target your audience

The most effective hooks are crafted with your audience in mind. So the first thing you'll need to do is make sure you really know who they are (take a look at the last two articles in this series where we discussed how you can build those customer profiles and how to use them to get an idea).

Then, take the strongest triggers and obstacles you identified and start conceiving your hook with them in mind.

  • So, if you've identified that your audience is on a quest for purpose, then your hook should explain how your product will help them on their journey.
  • If there's a danger they'll struggle to see how your product can help them with, then that's where your hook should focus.
  • Is their struggle to connect with others one of their biggest issues? Then those first sentences should demonstrate how your service will help create such connections.

The image you choose should complement both your text and your audience. Make sure that it fits your visitor's style and expectations by considering some other websites your target audience regularly visits.

Don't leave the image as an afterthought! If it's badly chosen it can undermine your whole website!

Stay positive 

Do note, many emotional triggers are negative. Don't take that to mean your website should start out the same. Often, it's better to take what you've identified and give it a positive spin. 

Don't talk about how it might be hard to imagine how your product can be helpful. (e.g. You might wonder, how will our product help you?) Instead, directly deal with how it is. (e.g. Our product will have a direct impact on your day-to-day by...)

Don't spend time dwelling on your audience's problems (e.g. Is your life empty?). Instead go straight to the solution! (e.g. We've helped thousands find meaning and purpose.

This has three advantages:

1. Most obviously, it avoids starting off negative. 

Some products may benefit from hitting a negative note, but most will do better if they strike a hopeful tone instead.

2. It broadens your appeal. 

Often people will have similar but different problems. For example they might struggle to connect, experience loneliness or feel alienated. If your hook focuses on how your service helps them build up relationships, then people with all three of these problems will feel you've addressed their needs. You’ll be like Coldplay: writing songs that millions feel perfectly describe their situation.

3. It is less likely to push an issue into awareness. 

Sure, some people will arrive at your website with the problem at the forefront of their mind. But for others the issue might be far hazier. For this latter group you don't want to end up crystalizing it!

Try out a few 

To find the right hook to start your website can be hard work. Particularly as the rest of your website needs to flow forth from it in a natural, organic manner. You might have to try several solutions before you find the one that works.

Don't think this is a waste of time! After all, simply because the hook you're currently working on doesn't end up starting your website doesn't mean it won't be useful. It might end up becoming a zinger further down the page. 

Or it could end up helping you with one of your other entry pages. 

A website has many hooks

In the parlance your home page is called a 'landing page' because that's where people will land on your website. And indeed, this is the hook-page of your whole site. But it is hardly the only place people will enter your website. Other pages can also be linked to through search engines and social media. 

For that reason, every page should be designed to have a hook. With each crafted slightly differently to suit the purpose and the goal that page is trying to achieve.

Which goals are those? For that, check out the next article!  

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