Six Examples of Strong Homepage Headlines

After publishing “Why Does Your Startup Sound Like a Startup?” and “The 2-second ‘Rule’” a couple weeks ago, several commenters on Hacker News and elsewhere requested I write a followup with examples of companies doing homepage copy the right way.

The examples below are just good examples. In other words, I’m not saying they’re perfect or that their approach should be codified into a set of rules. I’m also not endorsing the entire site itself, but simply focusing on the headlines themselves (hopefully those are enough caveats for the HN crowd).

All examples illustrate an approach to copy that does a few things well, including:

  • communicates a benefit to the visitor, not just a logical appeal based on the feature set
  • goes beyond what to say, and has clearly thought about how to say it in a meaningful way
  • entices the reader to read more of the page, armed with the context of the headline

Below you’ll find the good headlines and their source, a brief explanation of why I think they’re effective, followed by a few less compelling headlines that list features or state what the product does (which is what you’ll find on too many startup websites).

Put email in its place. (Mailbox)

Email controls the lives of many of us, but Mailbox provides a way to fight back. “Put email in its place” works well because the primary focus for Mailbox is allowing users to do just that by quickly and efficiently managing their inboxes.

This idea firmly positions Mailbox in that space and is broad enough to encapsulate all the different features that make the brand promise a reality.

Less compelling headlines might include:

  • The best way to check email on the iPhone
  • The quickest way to inbox zero
  • The most touch-friendly email app

Finally, you can know yourself best.(Scanadu)

Scanadu’s homepage is great example of brand-forward copy in a place you might expect direct and immediate feature description. The argument for feature-forward copy is the (false) assumption that the copy’s number one goal is to overtly spell-out what your product does. In the case of Scanadu Scout, which is a novel product in an emerging category (quantified self; home health), the headline sets the stage for further product explanation with a user-centered approach along with a nice nod to the well-known Socrates aphorism.

You’ll also notice as you scroll that the secondary headline appears, revealing a simple explanation of what Scanadu Scout does: A scanner packed with sensors that enables anyone to conduct sophisticated physical exams — in a snap. But not until the user has decided to engage the content.

Less compelling headlines might include:

  • A scanner that can track your heart rate, temperature, and more!
  • Scan your body from home

Follow the blogs you’ve been hearing about.
Share the things that you love. (

While Tumblr is clearly further down the growth curve than other good examples, the headline is solid because it accomplishes two things. First, it taps into the human desire to be in-the-know. Second, it invokes that all too powerful feeling of narcism. Ultimately, it talks clearly about “what’s in it for me?” rather than describing what Tumblr does.

Less compelling headlines might include:

  • Setup a blog in less than one minute
  • Share and save your favorite quotes, images, and more
  • The simplest blogging tool on the planet

Never drive empty again. (Keychain Logistics)

The team team Keychain clearly has a refined sense of their target audience, i.e. truck drivers and those they work for, and the headline quickly dials-in to the primary benefit for the drivers themselves. And even better, it does so in the language drivers naturally use. To the commoner, “drive empty” means an empty gas tank. But we’re not the target audience. To truckers, driving “empty” is worse than no fuel—it means no money.

Less compelling might include:

  • Truck Drivers: find more loads from your iPhone
  • Fill your trucks for free

Finding the right software is no longer a nightmare. (Credii)

The headline clearly defines the benefit to the user in an interesting way by acknowledging that finding software is indeed a nightmare, and implying that they have the solution. The slides that follow the first one go on to unpack the meaning of the headline, but the headline itself carries plenty of meaningful freight as it relates to telling the brand story.

Less compelling headlines might include:

  • Find enterprise software quickly and easily
  • The fastest way to select software for your business

More donors. More members. More votes. (Amicus)

The Amicus homepage dives headfirst into user benefits, going so far as to remove any features from the homepage (aside from what can be found in the demo video). Members of the target audience, i.e. nonprofit leaders, clearly would like more donors, members, and votes. The headline doesn’t have to get specific about how that happens, and can rely on the why of Amicus to effectively move the visitor to the next step.

Less compelling headlines might include:

  • Super simple online fundraising
  • More effective fundraising with gamification
  • Powerful fundraising management tool

Thanks to Dan Price for editing and feedback.

Still need help? I’m offering free 30-minute Google Hangout office hour sessions to take questions about startup branding and messaging. No strings attached. Get in touch if that interests you.

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