Too many times we treat our websites like a bad relationship. “Something is better than nothing,” we say, and promise ourselves we’ll make them better later.
Then we ignore them. And we’re shocked that they’re saying bad things about us behind our backs to everyone they encounter.
What’s your website up to?
Before writing this, I did some informal research on what other folks are saying—because I didn’t want to rehash what you can find elsewhere. There were lots of helpful finger-wagging ideas. Don’ts like videos or music launching automatically when someone comes to the site, using colors that make text hard to read, too many pop-ups asking people to do something.
Here are three egregious things I didn’t find others mentioning.
#1: Making Your Website All about You
People don’t come to your website to learn about you. They come to see themselves. If you can show them that you already solved the same problem that they have for somebody else, you reduce their perceived risk in working with you and shorten the amount of time it takes them to reach out.
I’m regularly amazed by sites that shout, “me, Me, ME!” They become a litany of all the wonderful things the company does, with paragraphs of eye-bulging length and loads of bulleted lists. It’s clear that an attempt at SEO has trumped common sense and readability.
What the perpetrators don’t realize is that once Google has sent that ideal client to them, this person runs away screaming!
Have a clear vision of your clients and what they want, and make your site about them.
#2: Not Knowing the Pain You Solve/the Gain You Provide
Studies show you have three seconds to capture the attention of a person who sees your home page and get him or her to look further.
Do it right now. Look at your home page, count to three, and then close your eyes. What do you remember? If it’s not the most important message you want people to know, then you’ve missed your opportunity.
Most people wander around feeling unseen and unheard. Show that you know them, and you’ll build interest and good will.
Use a short, intriguing headline on your home page, so clients know right away that you get them.
#3: Using Your Website as a Dumping Ground
You see it all the time: lots of text and PDFs and everything someone could think of is there online. Here are the two biggest issues. First, this looks cluttered and uninviting. Second, it’s a sign of laziness. Companies do a data dump and force their viewers to slog through it to try to find what they want.
I spent much of my career in investor relations (IR): working with CEOs and CFOs on how to tell their company story to investors. The IR part of a public company site usually is an endless morass of every filing and financial document available. But you really have to dig if you want to find out why you should buy their stock.
Respect your clients’ time by giving them what they really need to decide if they should talk to you. If they’re interested, you may send the kitchen sink later.
Have you seen a terrible site? Then send me a line at Lynne@LynneFranklin.com. We can make some snarky comments to each other about it. And then we can both go back to our sites and make sure we’re not making the same mistake!
I love the metaphor of website as a relationship. After 20+ years with my first website—designed by a professional who retired long ago—I recently moved to a WordPress site I can update myself. Never underestimate the power of self-care.
Hi Elaine —
It sounds as though you now have a great relationship with your website — congratulations! You’re probably attracting different clients than you were 20 years ago, so I’m sure they appreciate a site that better fits their needs, too.