Too many business owners create a website to look good. Their mistaken idea is that if they add the latest bells and whistles, animations or gorgeous images, people will be impressed and want to work with them. But, that isn’t how it works. The people who visit your website are looking for something to address a problem that they have. When looking for a solution, they bring their previous experiences, ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
If you are a web designer, perhaps someone coming to your site in need of a new website has had a bad experience with web designers before. Maybe they didn’t like the fact that the whole project was done on Basecamp and they couldn’t get their designer on the phone. Perhaps their previous web design company punted them off to an intern.
Or possibly they realize they need a web site with more strategy to attract and convert clients. For your website to be effective in attracting and converting your visitors into clients, the website must visually appeal to your ideal client and have a clear message that addresses their specific pain points. This is where having a niche client comes in handy. If you don’t know who you are trying to attract how do you know what they need to see to take action?
Visitors to the website need to immediately “get” that they are in the right place to get the help, products, or experience they need in the way they need them. When they come across a site that they connect with, they get excited and ready to take the next steps.
Too many of my web design clients initially think they just want a website that appeals to them – whether it be pretty or snazzy but without any thought of who their visitors are and what their ideal clients are looking for. I just spoke to a real estate developer who only wants a gallery of the buildings his company built, with very few words. A nice gallery or portfolio is great, but I told him that we need some words that tell his potential clients what they can expect working with his company and allow them to make a connection. Trust me, just because a builder has nice images doesn’t at all say how it would be to work with that company. It would go a long way to address some of the pain points that the builder probably hears about other builders their clients have had the misfortune of working with.
On the other hand, having the home page be full of boasting and tooting your own horn without addressing what your client needs to see and hear, also doesn’t work to form a connection either.
And be honest, when you visit a website, have you ever been dying to read a company’s mission statement on their home page? I thought not.
This flaw in this thinking is illustrated in a story shared by my friend, Alice Franklin, Entertaining a Seabird.
In ancient China, a disciple was talking with his teacher.
“Master,” said the disciple, “It is said that all you really need to know in dealing with people is to simply always treat others as you would want to be treated yourself. What do you think?”
“Let me tell you about how the Marquis of Lu entertained the seabird,” the Master responded.
“One day a rare and beautiful seabird was blown far off course by a storm. It came to earth in the capital of Lu. The Marquis of Lu was delighted, and made the seabird his special guest. He had performers sing and dance for it day and night, and he presented it with fine roast meats and excellent wine. But the bird was terrified and confused, and it ate and drank nothing. After three days it died.”
“The Marquis of Lu entertained the seabird the way he liked to be entertained, not the way a seabird likes to be entertained.”
We don’t want our website visitors terrified and confused or bored and unimpressed. Website visitors will choose to work with the company that best communicates about their product or services, presenting them in a way that the visitor can understand and connect with.
Your potential customers come to your website because they have a specific need or goal, such as finding:
- a solution to a problem they have
- specific information quickly
- contact information such as a phone number or directions
- a way to complete a specific task and move on
- a product to buy, a reservation to make or a consultation to sign up for
Just as the Marquis of Lu didn’t consider how the seabird wanted to be entertained, you are being very short-sighted if you make your website all about what you want people to see on your site. The better you know your target customers, the better you will select the design, visuals, and copy for your website so that it will tell your story in a way that connects with your ideal customers, creates trust, inspires action. Anything else gets in the way, and it just may kill the seabird.