As content strategists and web writers, we frequently face off with the dreaded Welcome copy in project requirements. It seems lots of folks still have difficulty parting ways with this dubious convention.
You know The Welcome. It looks a little something like this:
We get it, we do. It's important to be friendly and engaging. But here's a bit about why we consistently recommend against this tactic.
What's wrong with The Welcome? It's a waste of your valuable real estate.
The words in this box state the obvious. (And not very compellingly, but that's not the issue.) Nor do they directly help a user accomplish what she came to do. For example, they don't actually allow her to print a document. Or help her "take advantage of products"-or whatever. They're just in the way.
Ironically, The Welcome isn't even particularly welcoming. It's kind of awkward, inauthentic, overly formal, and sales-y. It reminds us of the host who overenthusiastically greets you at a party, then proceeds to talk about himself the entire time before abandoning his beleaguered listener go find her own glass of punch.
Gerry McGovern has no love for The Welcome. (And how.)
For some real vitriol on The Welcome, look no further than Gerry McGovern:
"There is nothing worse on the Web than welcoming people, and telling them about how you're so delighted to announce the launch of, or about how on your website they will be able to find, or about how it's now even easier, or about how you're introducing, launching, or already in an orbit of hot air."
Welcome is a state of mind-not a statement.
So what's a poor website to do? You still need to make your user feel welcome.
Fear not. You can. If you follow one simple rule: Show-don't tell.
You'll notice that nobody's welcoming anybody here, per se. Rather, the idea permeates every word and image on the page. And I defy anyone to tell me what could be more welcoming than a site that:
- Promises to be the best way of managing my money-for free (They can help me)
Organizes its navigation to mirror the way I naturally approach information (They understand me)
Presents high-level benefits (They help me decide whether their service is worth my precious time)
Offers a fresh, inspiring take on managing finances (They're approachable and friendly-and different)
Has won the attention of some important people (They know I'm a comparison shopper)
Features a bright orange "Get started" button (They clearly show me what I should do next)
Back at the party, Mint.com is the equivalent of the gracious host who waves at you from across the room. He doesn't waste time telling you how totally welcome you are, or what all you'll find when you walk through the door. He just smiles warmly, hands you a piece of cake, and asks if you have everything you need.
An elegant explanation of why welcome copy on the homepage isn't such a great idea.