Why is “Welcome” so important?

I’m seeing a lot of websites lately that open their homepage with a big “Welcome” title. The beauty of this title is that usually somebody decides it is so important that it also deserves to be a H1 heading.

From the marketing-girl’s perspective – or the PR-guy if you want – probably welcoming your visitors with such a nice and polite heading is the good thing to do. And when a programmer like me decides your welcome does not worth the H1 and lowers its importancy to H3 (because I’m not allowed to delete it completely) then the war inside the company is about to begin.

When you have nothing else to say

Some people think the most important in your site is YOU. Your company’s name, slogan, discoveries, news…Sometimes the logo is also H1 – sometimes not. And this is where you stop. Not everybody agrees, but all agree that you have to have a H1.

Next in the line is H2. You can use it in any way you want but bear in mind that Google is listening and this H2 will mean a lot for SEO. And now we go back to “Welcome”.

What is Google learning from you when the most important message in your page is “welcome”?

Welcome message in a non existent site

Forget Google, what about information?

From the Information Architecture point of view, the fact that you open your website with a “Welcome” means that you have nothing better to say.

When I see it I think that this company has nothing interesting to write on the index page. The headings help me understand what is the company doing and how it can help me (because this is why I am here, I’m not surfing the net to waste time), so the index page is the most important page in the entire website.

The way it is designed, the content and most of all the headings should make me understand the company’s purpose and activity and convince me NOT to leave the website at once.

Nobody reads, everyone scans

Why are the headings so important? Besides the race to win Google’s heart, it’s all about money! When you have a boring index page with boring headings and insipid content, the huge Flash in the middle of the page won’t help you stop loosing your visitors. If the visitors come, get bored/scared/indiferent then they go somewhere else. And they take the wallet with them.

In case you don’t give a….flower on a web specialist’s opinion about your website then this argument should win. The analitycs were invented with a purpose. Knowing how many vistors come and go, how much time they spend on your website and why are they leaving after 30 seconds it’s suppose to make you win or at least stop loosing money. If you’re even more insensitive than that, think about them as wallets. The visitor goes = the money goes.

Does this make you more interested in the Web Architect’s opinion?

Check the Spanish version of this post:
Porqué “Binevenida” es tan importante?