We have a lot of places to hang out online. We can pop in to Twitter for a quick chat. We can get cozy on Facebook with friends & family. We can get personal on online journals & blogs.

But the place we call home is our dot com.

Do you?

A home base is a place online that you own, that is your online ‘home’.
— Darren Rowse, ProBlogger

It’s where we can paint the walls, hang pictures, remodel the kitchen, and invite others over for dinner. We strive to make it represent who we are. We try to make it feel comfortable but also beautiful. We do our best to make it welcoming.

Your website is your home on the web.

What does your site say about you (and your business)?

We spend a lot of time trying to make sure our home says what we want it to say. But we need to spend – at least – equal time creating a home space for the others that visit us there.

Am I welcome here?

Okay, unlike your family home, your website is always open for visitors. But do visitors feel welcome? Do they know they’re in the right place? Do the recognize the surroundings? Do they know where to sit & prop up their feet?

Do they know where the bathroom is?

The first job of your website is to let people know they’re in the right place. Your website may be about you but every nook & cranny needs to serve those that visit.

You can create this feeling by choosing a tagline that reassures your right people. You can name your pages things that your visitors expect. You can choose colors and images that call people in instead of hastening their departure.

Do you own your home?

At home, I’m a renter. But on the web, I’m a home owner.

It’s important to have control over your content, your back end, and your services. Without complete control, you live in your home under the whim of your landlord.

And there aren’t nearly as many rules protecting your interests. When you put your best content, your “buy now” buttons, and your resources on something you don’t own, you’re exposing yourself to danger.

Owning your home means you have a solid, settled place to come home to, no matter what.

You can venture out into the Twitter cafes and Facebook lounges but you come back home at the end of the day, bringing your best friends with you.

Have you decorated?

Each room in your home is decorated to meet a certain purpose. Your bedroom is calm and quiet. Your family room is the center of entertainment. Your kitchen is functional and bright.

Your website has rooms too. Your blog functions as a conversation space. You have pages that act as information centers. You have resources that add function to your home.

You don’t want those who visit to just come into the foyer and turn around to leave. You want to direct them to the rooms they want to visit and provide what they need in each room.

Do you have a mailbox?

Of course, you’ve got email. But how else can others connect with you? How can you guide visitors to places they can connect with you outside your home.

The way we use the web is cyclical. We often find new places to visit via social media, we stop over for a bite to eat, and then we meet back out in the world again.

Visitors to your home appreciate you initiating that future connection: subscribing to a mailing list, connecting on Twitter, liking on Facebook, joining your forum. Extend the invitation and take advantage of the connection.

Take a look at your website home today. Does it say what you want it to say about you and your business? Is it all about you or are you welcoming in those that will visit?

My online course, Website Kick Start, will be opening for registration again soon. Learn how to create a website home you can be proud of. Sign up here to get the first notice of discounts & registration!

{ image by Barbara Walsh }