Customer-Centric Web Design: What Makes a Hero?
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Super HeroOne of the most common challenges I face as a web designer is the task of helping my clients create a site that targets the messaging to their ideal client’s needs while setting themselves apart from other businesses in their industry who provide the same services.

Most of the time, the companies I work with want to tell the visitors all about themselves and why they are great. I understand the urge. You probably do have the best products, in the best location, with the best service. The problem is that customers see this type of content as so much blah.. blah.. blah.

What catches their attention? Appeals to their emotions and solution to a problem or need that they have. Simply and directly.

It is hard to shift the mindset of a company that wants to communicate everything about themselves to their visitors. It is so tempting to send out newsletters full of new products, with great specials of the month and to tell everyone about the awards and the press you have received. But is that focus on your business the best way to build your loyal following?

Do you think that perhaps, if you changed up your messaging a bit to focus on your visitor’s needs, they might become loyal to the death? You know they say the definition of an interesting man is a man who finds a woman interesting and focuses on her? The same goes for business.

Part of my job as a web designer is to organize and present information in a visually appealing way. But if I just stop at that, I am doing my clients a huge disservice. They have to know in this customer-centric environment, that  there are alternatives which will be way more effective than the “let me tell you all about me” approach.

It can be a little bit of a struggle to push back when the client is determined that their visitor needs to know what their waiting room looks like. But I have to let them know that it will much more effective to make the customer the focus, the hero of the site. The front main area of the website or the slideshow is called the “Hero”.  The hero portion of the website gives you 3-5 seconds to set the stage for the visitor to “feel” like they are in the exact right place. In this short time span you have to “show”, rather than “tell” people what they can expect from working with you.

Once you get their attention, you continue with this approach throughout your content. Create a content map of what you want people to know about your brand, your company or product and write content, tell stories, include imagery that is carefully crafted and curated to as a whole, demonstrate who you are, how you think, what you know, and what your values are . Through what and how you are writing, the reader will come to know, like and trust you. When that happens, and your content lines up with their needs, your visitors will line up wanting to align themselves with you and want you and your organization work your magic on them as you have with others.


Here are some basic principles that will make your messaging more effective. Better messaging means more click throughs on your calls to action.

1. Identify your target audience(s) and persuasively answer their primary buying questions.  Before you even begin to write copy you should know your all about your target client or client types. What are the pressing needs of each group, and why should they come to you for a solution, rather than go somewhere else? This information should inform everything you do.

2. Buyers care about themselves more than your company or products.  A lot of messaging repeatedly uses the company’s name, and pronouns such as we, us, and our. It is written from the perspective of what the company or product does, or can do. So, stop making your company/product the center of attention. Instead, put the focus on your clients by rephrasing your messaging to use pronouns such as you, and your and yours as much as possible. Your persuasive messaging must be tuned to the buyer’s values and needs.

3. Use relevant visual imagery that appeals to the buyer’s emotions. We all know that “a picture’s worth a 1000 words”.  Let a photograph tell the story.

4. Create copy that appeals to the buyer’s emotions.  It has been shown in experiments that people make purchase decisions on the basis of emotion and then will justify their decisions rationally. So it is important that you not overwhelm them with the words touting your merits. Instead, have them feel that your business or solution with be the best for them. Present them with visuals (pictures, graphs, diagrams, charts) that align with your messaging while amplifying the buyer’s emotional reasons to buy so they say, “That is just what I need”. Seth Godin’s blog post, Millions of Words and Only 6 Emotions says it well.

5. Make your customer the hero of the story. You can dramatically increase the impact of your messaging by making sure your customer is the center of attention and the hero of the story. Your prospects will be able see themselves using your service company or products and want to have similar results.

6. Create three key points. It has been shown that people remember things best when presented in groups of three, but no more than five. So take advantage of this by creating three rotating slides/messages or organize your persuasive messaging into three to five silver bullets.

7. Don’t make them think. Sorry; no one is going to read your long copy with lists of extensive reasons why they should buy your product or service. Less is more.

8. Give your readers bite size pieces.  People will read and comprehend information that is fed to them in easily digestible amounts.

My friend Tom Tortorici has done a great job demonstrating the difference between business-centric and customer-centric marketing. Take a look at his examples. Which ones are most appealing? Do you need Tom’s help with your messaging?

Tom Tortorici customer-centric marketing social-media-co supermarketTom Tortoricci's customer-centric Tom Tortoricci's customer-centric Tom Tortoricci's customer-centric ad Tom Tortoricci customer centric shot

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