Do you have a welcome message like this on your homepage?
“Welcome to my website. Please look around and enjoy your visit.”
Tough love time. That website welcome message needs to go.
I know you wrote that welcome message to be warm, welcoming and friendly. Despite your best intentions, it doesn’t have that effect on your website visitors. Here’s why and what you can do instead.
Why You Should Ditch Your Website Welcome Message
79% of visitors don’t read your website [source]. Instead, they quickly skim the page to find what they’re looking for.
Jakob Nielson, one of the most respected web usability consultants in the world, calls welcome messages blah-blah text.
Visitors come to your website to solve a problem or find specific information. When they see a welcome message they think, “blah, blah, this isn’t what I’m looking for” and skip over it.
Visitors look for more actionable content like headlines, bullet points and links because those are the places they’re most likely to find what they’re looking for.
You do this too when you’re searching online. You google something, click a link in the search results and quickly scan the page to find whatever you googled.
What to Do Instead of a Website Welcome Message
Imagine you have an office for your business. Would you literally say “welcome to my office” when someone walks in? Uh, no.
You’d have a sign out front that says who you are and what you do. Your office would be nicely decorated and you’d greet visitors with a friendly smile and warm tone of voice.
Visitors would know where they are because of the sign out front. And they’d feel welcome because of the friendly, professional environment and your positive attitude. There’s no need to say “welcome to my office.” You can skip that and get right to the good stuff.
Your website is your virtual office. Welcome visitors online the same way you’d welcome them in your office.
Prominently display who you are and what you do. This is like the sign outside your office. Visitors can see at a glance if you have what they’re looking for.
Use the overall feel of your website to make visitors feel welcome. Your website should be uncluttered and nicely decorated. The text should have a pleasant, friendly tone. And it should be well-organized so people can easily find their way around.
Doing these things will convey a warm, friendly welcome without the need for a website welcome message that’s going to be ignored.
And what would you suggest to have instead of the word welcome? I don’t see the harm of welcoming if it’s just one sentence.
Hi there. A welcome message can actually be harmful in that it drastically reduces a website’s effectiveness and conversion rates (the percentage of website visitors that perform the actions you’d like them to on your website – buying something, signing up for your newsletter, etc).
This is what I suggested doing instead:
You would have all that information as well regardless of having a title that says welcome. It’s like shops having signs like ‘SALE, CLEARANCE, REDUCED STOCK, LIMITED TIME’. Everyone glazes pass through them, no one stops and reads them, we all know what they mean, but they are just an annoying integral part of the store. Take them out of your store just for the sake of being different and people probably won’t want to go there because they think there’s no sales or value happening.
I’m not suggesting removing a welcome message from a website for the sake of being different. I’m suggesting removing it because it’s been proven to be ineffective. Like you said, everyone glazes past those signs in a store, which is exactly what happens to welcome messages on websites. Instead of saying something that is ignored, you could be saying something that grabs people’s attention and effectively directs them to do the things you want them to do on your site.
This is spot on advice. You don’t see ‘WELCOME TO GOOGLE!’ or ‘JOHN LEWIS SAYS HI’ do you?