Originally published January 24, 2017 at Lumin8 Strategy & Design Agency Inc.
I once had a customer who chose to feature a large photo of their office on their website homepage. The image had nothing to do with their services and it did not connect with their customers in any meaningful way, but they had spent a lot of money on the building and they were proud of it. So the decision was made to sculpt the website narrative in a way that highlighted their own importance at the expense of the conversation they could be having with their customers. They chose to lead with their ego.
The world runs on relationships, whether personal or professional, and it is these interactions that help determine how successful you become. Get caught up in your own hype and you fail to recognize and address the needs of your audience first, possibly losing them to indifference and detachment. When it comes to building a successful website, remember to keep your ego in check by remaining critical of three key areas; Design, Content, and Priority.
Fashion your design based on what is relevant, not what you think is "cool". Unless you are a casino, you probably don't need those flashing lights and jarring sounds taking possession of your home page. Focus more on what appeals to your customers and why they want and need you. Images depicting products you carry, services you offer, or positive outcomes will make a connection much quicker than photos of your senior partners, your fancy headquarters, or that speed boat you bought because your business is doing so well. Having a website that clearly defines you means visitors won't be wasting precious time trying to figure you out. No one is going to eat at your restaurant if they think you are a chemical plant.
Tailor your content to speak to your audience, not your mirror. It may be hard to fathom, but your website visitors don't care about how your products were made or the logistics of what it takes to deliver them. All they want to know is that you are the solution they need. As much effort as you put into development, it's your restraint from bragging and a focus on your customers that will build meaningful relationships. You need to listen and understand them in order to give them what they want. Don't be the blind date that speaks only of themselves and ends up alone because they drive everyone else to boredom.
Show your customers how important they are by making them the priority. Organize your website so that the content vital to them is readily available and it will mean less frustration on their end, more loyalty gained on yours.
1. About Them Before About Us
Although customers want easy access to the content that means the most to them, they still want to know about you. They want to know who you are, what you are about, and whether they can trust you. Placing your company information where it is accessible but not in the forefront gives them the ability to learn about you while still making them the priority.
2. Results Out Front, Explanations In The Back
Always start with solutions and the way your customers will benefit from them. Don't share logistics, product specs, version history, etc. up front and risk complicating the process with too much technical overhead. For customers who require a greater level of detail, make additional information available elsewhere and create links to direct traffic.
3. No Cutting In Line
One of the most prevalant abuses of priority is the website menu. Placing customer-centric links after those of importance to the company is akin to putting your offices at the front of your store and forcing your customers to travel to the back to view your product. Subjects such as About Us, Blogs, and Links should be situated at the end of the menu while Products and Services should be up front. Remember that priority means catering to your customers first.
It's important to be proud of what you do but it's just as important to recognize when to be humble. Pride comes before a fall and pride that overshadows worth sacrifices genuine effort. You need your website to speak for you, not about you, and the best way to make that happen is to put aside your ego, step back, and let it do its thing.