What Makes a Great Web Site Tagline?

Your tagline should be a short, pithy phrase that’s a “concise statement of the site’s purpose,” according to usability expert Steve Krug.* It appears above, below or next to your business name and logo on every page of your site, but is especially prominent on your home page. Krug says a great tagline should be 6-8 words (“just long enough”). It needs to be clear andinformative. If it’s personable, lively and clever, so much the better!

A great web site tagline clearly says what you do and why visitors should care — and it says it in a way that’s short, sharp and memorable!

Here’s a clear, informative tagline:
MarketingSherpa.com
“Practical News on Internet Marketing”

www.marketingsherpa.com

And another:
RefDesk.com
“The single best source for facts on the net”

www.refdesk.com

This one makes it clear that we’ll get more than an online seed catalog; we’ll get juicy information too:
Burpee Seeds and Plants:
“America’s Favorite Gardening Resource”

www.burpee.com

Here’s a vague one (this is the old tagline):
SonicNet.com
“The Online Music Network”

www.sonicnet.com
(Is it a networking site for musicians? Or is it like MP3 where consumers go to listen to music and download it?)

The new tagline is even more confusing:
SonicNet.com
“Me Music. It’s Mine.”

www.sonicnet.com
(Do you have to be under 25 to get it?)

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Clever (but is it clear enough?):
Mooncircles
“A Cybercommunity for the Moon-Minded”

www.mooncircles.com

Another vague one:
(Can you tell what this web site does? It’s one of my favorites but I wouldn’t know what it is or what it does, from the tagline.)
Gaiam.Com
“A Lifestyle Company.
Simple Choices. Natural Connections.”

www.gaiam.com

Pithy, direct, to the point:
Advanced Book Exchange
“Finding books just got easier”

www.abebooks.com

Clear (no question about what it is!):
From My Perspective
“An Online Colored Pencil Magazine by Ann Kullberg”

www.annkullberg.com

And Steve Krug’s own site:
Advanced Common Sense
“Web Usability Consulting”

www.sensible.com

How do you come up with your own tagline?

  • Brainstorm! Write down lists of words that describe your business, without thinking too hard about it.
  • Identify which ones are keywords (you’ve done your keyword homework, right?).
  • Write down a few phrases that describe what your site and business does, and why people should care. What will it do for them?
  • Add some of the more descriptive, clever words from your first list, including at least one keyword, to those phrases.
  • Now cut the phrases down to 6-8 words.
  • Try out the different phrases on colleagues and family. Ask for their feedback — what does the phrase say to them?
  • Don’t discount serendipity — the perfect tagline may come to you in the middle of the night!

Sources & Resources:
(Links will open in new windows.)

“Let Them Know What Your Site is About” by Nick Usborne

“Tagline Blues: What’s the Site About?” by Jakob Nielsen

“Business Name & Tag Line Generator” by Marcia Yudkin
(Great brainstorming ideas)

*Steve Krug, Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (One of my favorite books)