As a web writer, I am always investigating websites, hoping to find new and better ways to organize and deliver homepage content. I like to see what the competition, and the not-so competition is doing well, and not so well. I can learn as much from website failures and successes, so I like to think that no matter where I land, it’s one of those nifty win-win situations. I admit that spying on, and dissecting websites is a tad sneaky, but I prefer to think of it as clever.

Since we know that “web success” and “web failure” is judged in large part by how usable it is, I like to step into the role of a miscellaneous Internet customer while surfing, gauging my reactions to the usability of the site’s homepage content. I like to call this every man persona Luigi.

If it’s easy to gather the information that Luigi needs, and it’s easy to take the action Luigi wants, then I have some techniques to snatch and apply myself.

Luigi loved the 37 Signals homepage, makers of web-based apps like Basecamp and Ruby on Rails. Why? Here are a few reasons:

37 Signals uses plain language. They take into account the viewer, and rather than try to “fluff-up” their site with jargon and fancy language. They write as though they are having a phone conversation with a real person who is trying to get real questions answered.

The homepage content delivers basic information, including:

*What they do: “web-based apps”

*Who their products are for: “Our products are built for small businesses and individuals (we call this group the Fortune 5,000,000)but companies of all sizes use them every day. From 1 person to teams of 3-5 people to companies of 5000.”

*Their competitive edge: “we build simpler web-based software with elegant interfaces and thoughtful features you’ll actually use.”

*Their primary products: “Basecamp, Backpack, Highrise, Campfire” web-based apps

*The basic product features: “Manage Products and Collaborate With Your Team & Clients: share files, meet deadlines, assign tasks, and centralize feedback” etc.

The homepage offers compelling arguments to partner with them:

* “We created an open-source web framework called Ruby on Rails”

* “Our products work with hundreds of software extras and Add-Ons”

* “Start earning money by referring friends and customers to our products”

Establishes credibility using social proof. Video customer testimonials, high-profile media reviews, and a “Buzz from Around the Web” section offer a convincing argument to buy from them: other, high profile businesses, and many several small businesses have chosen them with great success.

The homepage content makes it easy to take the next step. Clean, colorful product icons allow users to intuitively point-and-click their way to product information, pricing, and purchase ability.

So, there it is folks. Homepage content lessons learned, thanks to the hoard of strategists behind the 37 Signals site.